Woman is dragged away screaming from her home by Chinese officials in hazmat suits while her son tries to protect her as Covid lockdown intensifies
- Frustration is growing with China’s strict Covid-zero policies and lockdowns
- People vented fury online, posting videos of workers dragging people away
- One video showed a woman being hauled off to quarantine in front of her young child, while another showed an elderly man being carried away
- Came as Shanghai tightened its rules despite falling cases, and Beijing locked down its largest district amid fears of a city-wide shutdown
Videos showing people being dragged from their homes have flooded Chinese social media in a sign of growing frustration as Communist rulers once again tightened Covid lockdown rules.
One video, reportedly taken in the virus hotspot of Shanghai, showed a screaming woman being dragged from her home by hazmat-suited government workers while her weeping child tried in vain to stop them.
The footage emerged after city officials announced a new round of mass testing and changed rules so that anyone living in the same building as a confirmed case now risks being carted off to a state quarantine facility.
Previously, only those living in the same apartment or on the same floor as a case were deemed to be close contacts and forced to go into quarantine.
Meanwhile Beijing’s largest district was closed down with shops shut and residents told to stay home due to rising cases, as the capital edged close to a full shut-down.
Videos of people being dragged away by government health workers in China have flooded social media as frustration with its zero-Covid policy grows
China is now virtually the only country in the world to continue pursuing a ‘zero-Covid’ strategy – meaning strict lockdown rules for only minor outbreaks that last as long as it takes for cases to fall back to zero.
Despite signs the policy is damaging the world’s second-largest economy, Xi Jinping issued a decree reaffirming his commitment to the policy just last week – warning against ‘any slackening’ of virus controls.
‘Our prevention and control policies can withstand the test of history, our measures are scientific and effective,’ a statement from the ruling party’s highest body said.
‘We have won the battle to defend Wuhan, we can also win the battle to defend Shanghai.’
But the growing number of videos posted on Chinese social media – most of which were quickly pulled down by state censors – shows patience is wearing thin.
Frustration has been building for weeks, particularly in Shanghai, where anti-virus measures are being enforced with little or no warning and no communication about what they are for.
For example, many residents were baffled to find miles of green fencing criss-crossing the city a few weeks ago with some buildings completely shut off – and no explanation given as to why.
Now, authorities have ordered another round of mass testing and tightened virus restrictions despite cases falling in recent days.
Footage purportedly coming from Shanghai shows a woman being hauled off by hazmat-suited health workers while her young child tries in vain to stop them
Notices issued in several districts said residents were ordered to stay home and are barred from receiving nonessential deliveries as part of a ‘quiet period’ lasting at least until Wednesday.
The tightened measures could be extended depending on the results of mass testing, the notices said.
‘Thank you for your understanding and cooperation. Together we can lift the lockdown at an early date,’ said one notice issued in the city’s Huangpu district and posted online.
Shanghai on Monday reported 3,947 cases over the previous 24 hours, almost all of them without symptoms, along with 11 deaths.
Authorities have been gradually lifting isolation rules on the city’s 25 million residents, but the new orders appear to be returning to conditions at the early stage of the outbreak.
Shanghai originally ordered mass testing along with a limited lockdown, but extended that as case numbers rose.
Thousands of residents have been forced into centralized quarantine centers for showing a positive test result or merely having been in contact with an infected person.
Two Shanghai residents reached through social media said they’d had no prior notice of the new restrictions, which they were told could last for up to a week.
‘We’re unprepared,’ said Zhang Chen, a researcher with a technology company. ‘I packed my luggage thinking it would be my turn next’ to be taken to a quarantine facility.
‘I don’t know what will happen in May, but after the lockdown, I think I’ll need psychological help,’ Zhang said.
Another video posted on Chinese social media showed what appeared to be an elderly man carried away by workers in hazmat suits
A marketing professional in the western Pudong district said quality of life has been declining even as living expenses continue to rise under lockdown.
‘Every time, they say lockdown will be eased after a few days, but there seems to be no end,’ said the woman, who asked that she be identified only by her surname, Lu, to avoid repercussions from authorities who have cracked down heavily on dissent.
‘All aspects of work are affected. I don’t know when it will be time for the lockdown to come to an end,’ Lu said.
In Beijing, authorities closed down the largest city district, with residents told to stay home and stores closed. Beijing has ordered daily testing of all residents, closed parks and other leisure venues and limited restaurants to takeout business only.
The usually bustling Sanlitun area crammed with restaurants, boutiques and an Apple store was all but deserted. Despite that, retiree Yang Xiaochang said Beijing appeared to be far better prepared to weather the surge than its southern cousin.
‘Even though at the beginning there were some panic buying . Beijing will not be like that,’ Yang said, referring to Shanghai.
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