Shanghai lockdown on social media: ‘The panic surrounding the epidemic is more dangerous than the epidemic itself’

As the stress of Shanghai’s lockdown takes its toll on people, many on social media are asking for help and wondering if the panic surrounding the outbreak is more harmful than the outbreak itself.

On Sunday, March 27, local authorities in Shanghai announced that in light of the unprecedented spike in Covid-19 in the city, parts of the city were going to be locked down. The city’s lockdown was supposed to happen in two stages, with the east side of the city locked down until April 1 and the west side from April 1-5, but the lockdown was already extended Thursday night.

The Shanghai lockdowns are taking place amid China’s worst Covid-19 outbreak since Wuhan. From March 1 to March 31, the country recorded a total of 103,965 new cases in 29 provinces, as said Lei Zhenglong (雷正龙), deputy head of the National Commission’s Disease Prevention and Control Office. Health (NHC). , with 90% of all Covid-19 cases found in Jilin Province and Shanghai.

Since the Shanghai Covid-19 situation has become grimmer, many stories have emerged on Chinese social media of citizens struggling to get their medicine, not getting the medical care they need, or those stories of ‘children and elderly people left to fend for themselves without proper care. Some of these people are in gated communities, others are quarantined at a local hospital or other quarantine facility.

A Weibo post from March 31 read:

“Help! Parents both tested positive and taken to solitary confinement, child is home alone. Neighborhood committee is not listening, please help this child!

The post was asking for help for a 10-year-old girl left alone at home in Shanghai’s Pudong district. As the girl would have tested negative, she could stay at home while her carers had to leave. According to the Weibo post, the girl was crying and neighbors called for help for her, but so far she had not received any and was still alone in the apartment.

Also on March 31, a person suffering from kidney (kidney) disease called for help on Weibo after missing his daily dialysis treatment for already ten days. The 41-year-old man, surnamed Huang, tested positive for Covid-19 on March 27 and was transferred to the Fifth People’s Hospital of Fudan University in Shanghai for quarantine on March 30. Huang wrote on Weibo:

“I haven’t been able to eat or drink for four days. My whole body is swollen and I cannot urinate. I beg the Shanghai government to hurry up and let me have dialysis, please save my life, I can’t die, I have parents and children to take care of, I need to survive. Please help me.

Huang’s post has been forwarded more than 25,000 times and received hundreds of comments. Shortly after, his entire account was deleted. “Shanghai, what’s going on?” asked one person.

A day earlier, on March 30, news surfaced on social media that a person living in Shanghai’s Pudong district had been unable to get proper emergency care after suffering from a stroke. ‘asthma. The person reportedly called the emergency line at 8:00 a.m. but the ambulance did not arrive until 9:40 a.m. They were already dead by then. On March 31, the Shanghai Pudong Health Care Commission publicly apologized for the incident and said the emergency physician in question had been suspended for not responding adequately to the situation (#官方回应上海哮喘老人救助无效去世#).

A week earlier, on March 23, a Shanghai nurse also died of an asthma attack because Covid-19 restrictions at the hospital she worked for prevented her from receiving treatment there.

These and other stories have generated much discussion on Chinese social media over the past week about Shanghai’s handling of the Covid-19 outbreak and the general direction of the epidemic measures in China.

A popular article posted on WeChat on April 1 is titled “More dangerous than the epidemic is the panic surrounding the epidemic” (“比疫情更危险的,是对疫情的恐慌”). In this post – since deleted – the author shares some thoughts on Shanghai’s lockdown and the panic that erupted among locals once it became clear they should stay indoors. Videos of people fighting over food in supermarkets went viral as many locals rushed to stores to fill their carts with vegetables and noodles (see Twitter feed here).

“I thought that since two years have already passed, people would be able to deal with the now weakened virus in a more rational way, but in fact the reality is not like that at all – many people still live in a state of panic, and the contagious effect of that kind of panic has generated a broader sense of panic.Looking at Shanghai now, people are not only afraid of Covid-19, but more afraid of not being able to buy vegetables, not being able to get medicine or see a doctor, not being able to get timely help in an emergency,…People in Shanghai are no longer afraid of testing positive, but they are afraid of be taken to a quarantine site where no one cares about you.Every family living with elderly people or small children can only pray that no one gets sick during the lockdown.What would otherwise be a small problem might now become a big deal , what would otherwise be a big deal could now become fatal.

In response to the story of the 10-year-old girl being left alone at home, a Weibo commenter wrote:

“If we can’t even protect the lives of the defenseless, the small and the weak, then what? I would do anything to protect and save them, not because I’m bragging, but because it’s the most humane thing to do. I would really like to ask this society: we were once brave and fearless, where did this go?

Another Weibo user posted on April 1:

“We are in Pudong. We knew beforehand that it was going to be difficult and still went to the supermarket when we could. Before they said take out and express delivery would be available, now there is nothing. Not a single supermarket is open, the last store that was still doing take-out delivery has now also closed. We still have our stove and some reserves, we can cook meals. But there are many wanderers from Shanghai [non-locals who work in the city] who have no take-out food and no vegetables to eat. (..) I support the fight against the epidemic and I do not agree to open everything. But we should choose the lesser of two evils between the reality of people collapsing because they can’t eat; not able to see a doctor; not able to get a single dish; unable to leave the house at all, and the risks we face if we let society operate as normal. I’m just a normal citizen, not a foreign influence, and I’m just describing what I see as someone who’s right in the middle.

One aspect of Shanghai’s Covid-19 crisis that has been highlighted by some social media users is that people’s experiences in the city are sometimes very different depending on their community and location.

A Weibo user dubbed “Panda Eating Winter Bamboo Shoots” wrote just before the lockdown:

“Our community has already been locked down for ten days, and tomorrow Pudong will also be locked down for four days. I see people who have been free to go to the supermarket since early in the morning, frantically grabbing food, while those who are not free like us are just sitting at home, worried. We are in the same Shanghai, but our situations are worlds apart (..) Friends in areas that are not confined are ordering takeout, shopping, buying coffee, and people are still not wearing of face masks when visiting trendy restaurants. ”

Another Weibo blogger wrote on April 1: “I’ve been locked up for 17 days and have seen photos online of influencers in Shanghai posting selfies and leaving their homes to eat, while I’m here – locked up at inside.

After the eastern part of the city was locked down, one commentator wrote: “Shanghai really is like two worlds now. Discontent is openly expressed in the territory held by the enemy, the liberated area is not disturbed.

“But we all still find it difficult to buy vegetables,” one person replied, while others pointed out that many people in Pudong were really desperate due to a lack of food and organized help for they.

At the same time, more and more photos are appearing all over social media of food parcels provided to people by the Shanghai government (#上海发菜#). Much like the situation in Xi’an during the lockdown earlier this year, people are expressing their gratitude for receiving food at a time when so many people are stressing over not having enough to eat.

One person on Weibo writes what so many people wonder: “Shanghai, when will you be back to normal?”

By Manya Koetse

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