Fearing another daunting Covid-19 lockdown, weeks after the city was shut down under a raft of draconian measures, Shanghai residents are facing another crisis – a sweeping heatwave plaguing several major cities across China.
Pandemic workers, donned in their now iconic 'big white' PPE suits, are facing the brunt of the heat, working tirelessly through the gruelling conditions as the major financial hub of 26 million people attempts to quash rising infection.
The city's residents are going through a round of mass testing from Tuesday to Thursday, however daytime temperatures have soared to above 40 degrees. The city, as well as a dozen more, has issued its highest-level red alert warnings.
Images shared to Chinese social media site Weibo shows exhausted pandemic workers doing what they can to avoid the heat.
Large ice blocks have been delivered to the workers, with some going to extreme lengths to utilise them, including one worker lying flat on top of them.
Another worker can be seen with frozen water bottles strapped to their side.
Prominent media blogger Zhang Xiaolei said body temperature inside the suits reached 67 degrees after just one hour. He shared an unverified photo of workers with large tubes strapped to them, presumably attached to a fan or air conditioning unit.
Those who faced queueing up in the heat froze water in whatever containers they had the night before, state TV channel CCTV reported.
Fears lockdown will return
While authorities have stressed it is not considering a city-wide lockdown, even in the face of the BA.5.2.1 subvariant, some communities have been told to stockpile essentials, triggering a sense of uncertainty for many who are fearing the worst.
"There are no signs that they will lock down our neighbourhood right now. But there were also no signs the first time," said Omri Hephner, an Israeli business consultant told Reuters.
Many business owners are fearing further financial woes, yet Beijing has repeatedly stressed controlling the virus's spread will be most beneficial to the nation's economy in the long run.
China's unwavering Covid-zero strategy vastly differs to many other nations who have moved on and are living with the virus.
That has fuelled discontent in areas that are still being placed under heavy restrictions. During Shanghai's lockdown in April and May, President Xi Jinping witnessed a level of resistance from residents rarely seen during his tenure.
Shanghai's latest daily case total stands at 55, while the nation recorded fewer than 300 infections.
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