Shanghai is fencing up COVID-affected buildings, fueling a new outcry
Shanghai is fencing up COVID-affected buildings, fueling a new outcry

Shanghai is fencing up COVID-affected buildings, fueling a new outcry

A courier in protective suit delivers to a residence in the middle of the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Shanghai, China, on April 23, 2022. REUTERS / Brenda Goh / File Photo

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SHANGHAI, April 24 (Reuters) – Shanghai authorities fighting an outbreak of COVID-19 have erected network barriers outside some residential buildings, sparking fresh public outcry over a shutdown that has forced much of the city’s 25 million people to stay at home.

Pictures of white hazmat suit-clad workers sealing entrances to apartment blocks and even closing off entire streets with about two-meter-high green fences went viral on social media on Saturday, prompting questions and complaints from residents.

“This is so disrespectful to people’s rights inside, by using metal barriers to enclose them as pets,” said a user on the social media platform Weibo.

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A video showed residents yelling at workers who put up fences from their balconies, who later gave in and took them away. Other videos showed people trying to pull the fences down.

“Is not this a fire hazard?” said another Weibo user.

Most of the barriers appeared to have been erected around areas designated as “sealed areas”, which are buildings where at least one person has tested positive for COVID-19, and so whose occupants are prohibited from leaving their front doors.

It was not immediately clear what prompted authorities to resort to barriers, but a statement dated Saturday from a local authority shared online said it imposed “harsh quarantine” in some areas.

Reuters was unable to verify the authenticity of the images, videos or message.

The Shanghai government did not respond to a request for comment.

Shanghai, China’s largest city and main economic hub, is battling the country’s largest COVID-19 outbreak to date with an elimination policy that seeks to test, track and force all positive cases into key quarantine facilities.

The shutdown, which for many residents has lasted over three weeks, has fueled frustration over access to food and medical care, lost wages, family separation, quarantine conditions and censorship of efforts to derive online.

It has also drawn on the world’s second largest economy, with factory production disrupted by constricted supply chains and difficulties faced by incarcerated residents returning to work. Read more

The city conducts daily COVID-19 testing throughout the city and accelerates transmissions of positive cases to central isolation facilities to eradicate virus transmission outside quarantine areas.

In the past week, authorities have transferred entire communities, including uninfected people, to isolation facilities outside Shanghai, saying they wanted to disinfect their homes, according to residents and social media.

The city reported 39 new COVID-19 deaths on April 23, up from 12 the day before and by far the most during the current outbreak.

It did not report any deaths during the first few weeks, raising doubts among residents about the numbers. It has since reported 87 deaths, all within the last seven days.

Shanghai registered 19,657 new locally transmitted asymptomatic cases against 20,634 a day earlier and 1,401 symptomatic against 2,736.

Cases outside quarantine areas totaled 280 from 218 the day before. Other cities that have been under lockdown began easing restrictions when case numbers hit.

China has largely managed to keep COVID-19 in check after the first outbreak in Wuhan in late 2019 with a “dynamic zero” policy aimed at eradicating infection chains.

That approach has been challenged by the proliferation of the highly contagious but less deadly Omicron variant, which has prompted cities to impose different levels of movement restrictions.

Nationwide, China reported 20,285 new asymptomatic coronavirus cases for Saturday, up from 21,423 a day earlier, with 1,580 symptomatic cases against 2,988.

Beijing registered 22 new COVID-19 cases – all locally transmitted – compared to six the day before, prompting a number of fitness centers and leisure-time providers to suspend personal lessons.

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Reporting by Brenda Goh, Norihiko Shirouzu, David Stanway, and the editors of Shanghai and Beijing; Edited by Tony Munroe and Christopher Cushing

Our standards: Thomson Reuters trust principles.

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