I’ve been spending a lot of time searching the latest news of Shanghai as the city struggles to control its virus cases. When positive cases exploded 4 weeks ago, a majority of Shanghainese felt the Zero-Covid police would not be so strictly enforced. Authorities calmed their concerns by telling residents not to hoard groceries, to continue as normal, they’d handle everything smoothly and efficiently.
But in just a matter of 3 days, things went from calm to panic as orders came down from Beijing to get the disastrous situation under control.. . . immediately.
More than 10 officials were sacked for not reigning in spiraling positive cases sooner. Lockdowns ensued immediately with barriers set up on streets and around apartment complexes, not allowing anyone out unless it was for daily mandatory testing. Make-shift quarantine buildings hastily were prepared to house the positive cases who were not allowed to quarantine in their homes. To make room for the tens of thousands of positive cases, convention halls, schools, hospitals, gymnasiums, empty apartment complexes and even already rented apartments (some residents were evicted and sent to other areas of the city to be housed) have been hastily prepared with rows of cots to accommodate all who test positive.
My first news updates are those found either online or from Chinese news outlets. This one is the most recent.
Article from The Sixth Tone
I subscribe to The Sixth Tone, a great news resource out of China which I have on my phone. Articles range from all across the country as well as more local news from my own city, Luzhou. The following I found quite interesting, concerning truck drivers who have found themselves “stuck” in Shanghai:
“When truck drivers drop to Shanghai in late March, little did they know that many of them would be unable to return to their home provinces for weeks.
Since the Covid-19 lockdown started March 28, truckers from neighboring Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces said they have faced several difficulties. Som are struggling with limited consignments from the city, while others find it difficult in obtaining permits to leave Shanghai.
Those stuck in Shanghai have turned their trucks into makeshift homes. But they’re running out of food, and their truck batteries are either dying or dead.
As Shanghai enters its third week of lockdown, the truck drivers and their vehicles have become immobile — just like the city itself.”
Other Sixth Tone Articles
A few other articles highlighted ordering food online.
With 26 million people needing food, cell phones went into overdrive as residents spent a majority of their time trying desperately to place orders. Some downloaded as many as 20 different grocery Apps on their phones, working their way through App after App trying to get just one simple order of groceries accepted. Starting at 6 a.m. in the morning, phone users worked throughout the day (sometimes not even able to get in an hour) before announcements of “No more food orders are being accepted” messages became a constant.
The most desperate situation reported dealt with the elderly, many of whom were not very adept at cell phone use and some who had no cell phone at all. One woman in her 80’s, living alone, had gone without food for 4 days.
A heartwarming story emerged of a young couple who posted a written note at the entrance of their apartment complex for the elderly to read when they emerged for their daily Covid tests. They gave their phone number and apartment number, announcing to any who needed help in getting food to please contact them. This simple act of kindness immediately gained them 7 elderly couples who called or knocked on their door, asking for assistance. The couple then began taking bulk orders to cut down on too many deliveries, which worked out quite well. Working together on two separate phones, the couple was able to get supplies for everyone and distribute them evenly among those who needed it.
In Week 5 of the lockdown, the couple continue to order food for those in need with more young people in other apartment complexes around the city following their lead. Aside from groceries, online ordering has even branched off to getting much-needed medicine for “grandma and grandpa”, since they are not able to go to shops or hospitals to pick up what is needed.
The biggest difficulty deals with rising prices, it seems. One woman outside of Shanghai spent her days trying to order for her father who was a Shanghai resident. After 2 days on her phone, she managed to get 60 eggs and a small bag of rice, paying $62 US, delivered to her dad.
And on a more personal note, one of my former students whose friend is in Shanghai was able to buy 4 piddly little cucumbers, usually available for 50 cents in the grocery, for a whopping $5.
One does wonder what happens to those who have little or no money, or haven’t set up payment via their cell phones like a majority of Chinese have. I do know that when Covid hit, many went to direct payment from bank account Apps as money was considered a virus spreader.
From what I have heard, in today’s China, paper money is rarely seen, used or wanted.
Next Report: What My Friends Are WeChatting About
I’ll let you all continue to search and read more about Shanghai on your own.
I will say that in my area of China, all is calm with people going about life as always. Some are not even wearing masks anymore, including in the classroom at my college. Most have told me that Shanghai’s problem came with officials not keeping a close enough eye on the virus spread. While they sympathize, quite a few are taking pride in their towns and districts that have made sure a single case or two is taken care of immediately, even if there is a bit of inconvenience involved with shutdowns or required constant testing.
When referring to the Chinese, I’d say a majority of those I know would agree this old saying goes over quite well: “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.”