China’s two largest cities strengthened Covid-19 restrictions on their inhabitants on Monday, causing fresh frustration and even raising issues about the legitimacy of the country’s unrelenting fight against the virus.
As China grapples with its biggest Covid outbreak since the outbreak began, officials in Shanghai, the country’s most populated city, have initiated a fresh drive to stop infections outside quarantine zones by late May, according to sources familiar with the situation.
While no official statement has been made, residents in at least four of the district’s 16 districts got letters over the weekend that they were no longer allowed to leave their homes or receive deliveries as part of the attempt to reduce community infections to zero.
On Sunday, a lady yelled over a megaphone at inhabitants mixing underneath apartment buildings in one of those complexes, “Go home, go home!”
Two residents in Yangpu, a fifth district, said they had been warned of similar measures and that local grocers would be closing as part of the operation.
Online tales of officials forcing neighbours of positive cases into centralised confinement and insisting that they hand over the keys to their houses to be cleaned stoked public outrage, which legal experts called illegal.
In an essay extensively distributed on social media on Sunday, Professor Tong Zhiwei, a law professor at the East China University of Political Science and Law, stated that such activities were illegal and should be stopped.
Tong wrote: “Shanghai should set a good example for the whole country on how to carry out Covid prevention work in a scientific and legitimate way.”
He said in the essay, to which he stated more than 20 scholars contributed, that such steps should only be employed in an emergency, he said.
A similar letter was written to authorities by Liu Dali, a lawyer from one of China’s major legal firms.
Both messages have been restricted on the Chinese internet, but individuals have published screenshots. Late on Sunday, posts from Tong’s social media account on the Weibo site were suspended.
Requests for comment from Liu and Tong were not immediately returned.
Despite the growing economic costs, China is steadfast in its zero-Covid policy to combat a sickness that initially arose in the city of Wuhan in late 2019.
Authorities have advised against criticising a measure that they claim saves lives.
They point to significantly higher mortality tolls in other nations that have relaxed or eliminated regulations in order to “live with Covid” even while infections proliferate.
“We must insist on regulating the flow and control of the movement of people,” Shanghai’s city government said in response to Reuters questioning about the latest restrictions.
A “one-size-fits-all” approach should be avoided, and each district should be permitted to strengthen measures based on its particular circumstances, it said.
Shanghai recorded a reduction in new cases for the tenth consecutive day on Monday.
Residents were notified later that morning that positive cases had been discovered in the region.
Courtesy Bol News