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13th Apr 2022

Explained: What’s happening in Shanghai?

“It’s a dire situation.”

Shanghai is about to enter week two of a strict Covid lockdown.

The city of 26 million has experienced a huge rise in Omicron cases.

In March, a phased lockdown to deal with the surge was announced, firstly in the city’s eastern district, and then its western district days later.

But as numbers continued to rise, a city-wide lockdown followed on 3 April, meaning the abrupt closure of most businesses. People were ordered to stay in their homes.

A CNN journalist, who is currently in the city, says people are not allowed to leave their residential compounds, even for food, and are forced to rely on government or private delivery drivers to bring food.

He says the gate of his apartment complex has been “sealed with padlocks and bicycle locks” for the past few weeks to prevent residents leaving.

The city has built over 100 makeshift temporary quarantine facilities. Instead of isolating at home, people who test positive for Covid must isolate in these facilities – which have been criticised by some for being crowded and dirty.

There is also growing concern over the impact of this lockdown on global trade, as Shanghai is home to one of the world’s busiest port and China’s main stock exchange.

Videos have emerged on social media showing angry residents talking about food shortages and inadequate medical supplies.

Over the weekend, footage circulated on Twitter of people screaming in frustration from high rise apartments after a full week of harsh restrictions.

A narrator in the video described “tragedy” that will surely unfold if the current situation continues.

Another video showed what appeared to be people in the Songjiang district breaking into a supermarket and carrying away cartons of food. However, police denied the event occurred in the city.

One resident told Sky News: “It’s a dire situation here in Shanghai.

“I’ve got friends who have run out of food, their communities don’t help them as they are foreigners, no information to let us know what’s going on and it seems more and more panic seems to be causing breakouts of fights between the locals as everyone is starving.

“If this was anywhere in Europe, by day five of not having food people would be rioting on the streets.”

According to Reuters, Shanghai announced on Wednesday that it will begin to partly ease lockdown restrictions in some areas of the city.

Also on Wednesday, citizens were warned  that anyone who violates lockdown rules would be dealt with strictly.

Police have also now decided to ban cars from the streets, except for those involved in epidemic prevention or transporting people in need of emergency medical treatment – likely an effort to stop residents leaving amid the easing of lockdown anouncement.