Facing Covid, Shanghai admits ‘insufficient’ preparation

‘Insufficient preparation’: A senior Shanghai official acknowledged on Thursday that China’s economic capital was not fully prepared for the current Covid outbreak, which is forcing the city to contain its 25 million residents.

The metropolis is facing the strongest wave of infection since the beginning of the epidemic. The Omicron option puts a strain on the nation’s Covid Zero strategy, which aims to do everything possible to prevent new cases.

Shanghai residents living in the eastern part of the city (Pudong) have been in their homes since Monday morning and are subject to general inspection. This confinement will last until Friday morning, when the West (Puksi) will be placed under the cap.

The news was announced at the last minute, on a Sunday night around 9 p.m., prompting a rush of residents to shops to stock up on groceries. With demand, vegetable prices jumped this week.

If containment logistics are generally working well, some Shanghainese complain about a lack of fresh food, or lack of access to hospitals, not being allowed to leave their home, or testing negative for Covid.

Faced with dissatisfaction, senior city hall official Ma Chunlei admitted on Thursday, according to an official statement, that “with the number of infections soaring, our preparations have been insufficient.”

– “Hard times” –

He said authorities are replenishing their stocks of testing materials, building quarantine centers and setting up beds.

“We humbly accept criticism and do our best to improve,” Ma said.

The health ministry on Thursday reported more than 5,600 new positive cases in Shanghai, the vast majority of which are asymptomatic.

Several exhibition areas in the city have been converted into quarantine centers. Videos released by the media show countless rows of beds and partitions set up in large halls.

In the western part of Shanghai, a general containment will not begin until Friday. But the residence of Dong Joon, a resident of this part of the city, was closed as of Wednesday after the opening of the case.

“Since the previous births, I have developed the habit of constantly filling my refrigerator.

“It’s a bit of a hassle to keep a stock of essentials.”

But the conclusion can also rhyme with humor.

Three local rappers who sing in Shanghainese created a humorous song with a music video about food hype and movie screenings. Viral, it has already been shared by millions of Internet users.

– WHO appeal –

A zero Covid strategy consists of several measures: imprisonment when there are several cases, issuance of visas in drops, a long quarantine upon arrival in the territory, or even tracking movements through mobile applications.

An employee wearing protective gear walks on a street in a restricted area of ​​Shanghai, March 31, 2022, China. (AFP – Hector RETAMAL)

These measures have allowed the majority of Chinese to live near-normal lives since the spring of 2020, avoiding hospital overcrowding as well as deaths – just two deaths from Covid-19 in more than a year.

The health minister called on Wednesday to continue this strategy, as even a low death rate, he said, would lead to a large number of deaths among China’s population of 1.4 billion inhabitants.

“No country has a health care system capable of handling such numbers,” Ma Xiaowei said in support of his point of view.

However, when asked about Shanghai, World Health Organization (WHO) emergency director Michael Ryan said on Wednesday that all countries, including China, need to have a plan in place to finally lift Covid restrictions.

“This exit strategy (…) must be cautious, especially when you have already achieved such success,” he stressed to the press in Geneva, however.

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