TAIPEI, Taiwan — Volunteers and government workers in Shanghai erected metal barriers in multiple districts to block off small streets and entrances to apartment complexes, as China hardens its strict “zero-COVID” approach in its largest city despite growing complaints from residents.
In the city’s financial district, Pudong, the barriers — thin metal sheets or mesh fences — were put up in several neighborhoods under a local government directive, according to Caixin, a Chinese business media outlet. The main entrances to buildings where there have been cases sealed with small openings for workers in pandemic prevention.
Beijing authorities have announced that a mass test will be conducted in Chaoyang District, which is home to 3 million Chinese people, starting Monday.
An announcement caused panic on Sunday evening with the loss of vegetables, eggs, and soy sauce from supermarket shelves.
State broadcaster CGTN said that a fresh epidemic has affected at least 41 people in Chaoyang, 26 in Chaoyang.
China recorded 21,796 COVID-19 new infections in its community on Sunday. The majority of these cases were found to be in Shanghai. In an effort to reduce the spread of the disease, several cities and regions across China have instituted lockdowns.
This latest epidemic, caused by the contagious Omicron variant of Omicron, is widespread across the country, with a particular focus in Shanghai. Since the outbreak started nearly two months ago, there have been hundreds of thousands of cases in Shanghai, which is a financial center with more than 25 million people. However, less than 100 people died.
The death toll was examined by the Associated Press. It revealed that the authorities changed the way they count cases with positive outcomes, despite a long history of using narrow criteria to connect deaths to specific diseases. This is almost certain to be an underestimate of the real death toll.
Social media users posted photos of Saturday’s new barriers, some protesting the actions. Caixin said that barriers will allow roads to flow unblocked.
In one video, verified by the AP, residents leaving a building in Shanghai’s Xuhui district broke down the mesh fence barricade at their front entrance and went looking for the security guard they believed to be responsible for putting it up.
Shanghai uses a tiered system that divides neighborhoods into three groups based upon the likelihood of transmission. The first category is subject to strict COVID-19 regulations and was the target of new heightened controls. The third group allows people to go outside their home and use public spaces.
Authorities in Shanghai reported 39 COVID-19-related deaths. This brings the total official death count to 4,725 by Saturday’s end, according to the National Health Commission.
The city’s lockdown has drawn global attention for its strict approach and sometimes dangerous consequences. Many people in the city struggle to obtain groceries. They resort to bartering, bulk purchasing and other methods. Due to strict movement restrictions, others have not been able to get the proper medical care they need.
On Friday, Chinese internet users shared a six-minute video called “Voices of April” that documents some of the most challenging public moments the city has experienced in the nearly month-long lockdown. One part features audio of residents in one Shanghai community who protested on April 8, screaming: “Send us food Send us food! Send us food!” in unison.
It was visible on WeChat timelines until it was abruptly deleted by censors.
Chinese authorities have continued to say that the “zero-COVID” strategy is the best way forward given low vaccination rates in people over age 60, and that omicron would result in many deaths and severe illnesses if the country ended its strict approach.
Penny Wang from the Associated Press contributed to this article.
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