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Despair amid food shortages in Shanghai while blocking Covid bites China

Stories of despair emerge in Shanghai as the city enters its third day of severe blockade, with increasingly widespread reports that residents do not have access to food, medicine and other necessities.

Covid’s confinement in the city was extended indefinitely earlier this week after gradual restrictions failed to control infections. City officials have promised that the phased blockade will end on April 5, leaving many residents of the Chinese metropolis unprepared to be stranded indefinitely.

Despite harsh measures, Shanghai’s cases continue to rise as mandatory tests continue. The city reported 20,398 new infections on Friday, 824 of which were symptomatic.

Disappointed cries for help are circulating on Weibo, China’s microblogging platform, where residents complain about food shortages and accidental blocking measures.

“No matter where you live, whether you have money or not, you have to worry about what else you can eat and how you can buy things,” a comment said Thursday.

“Do you want to starve the people of Baoshan?” Wrote a resident of the suburbs, complaining of a lack of food.

There were also signs that medical volunteers who had been brought to the city to help with the pandemic effort were fighting for access to food on their own.

“Are the supplies only for the locals of Shanghai?” … As an outsider, I can volunteer, but why aren’t the goods and consumables assigned to us? ”A female medical volunteer cries in a video of Douyin, a Chinese platform similar to TikTok.

A video posted on social media, but unverified, shows a man shouting on the phone to authorities, saying he was starving.

Drones flew into the city’s skies earlier this week, according to a social media video in China, warning people protesting on their balconies to stay indoors.

As seen by Weibo: Shanghai residents go to their balconies to sing and protest the lack of supplies. A drone appears: “Please observe the restrictions of covid. Control your soul’s desire for freedom. Don’t open the window and don’t sing. ”

– Alice Soo (@aliceysu) April 6, 2022

Rising cries for help are causing concern elsewhere in the country. “Every day when I wake up and check Weibo, it’s either a post calling for help or an insulting post about not being able to grab food. “No one would have thought that there would be a large-scale food shortage in Shanghai in 2022,” a Weibo user from Ningbo, south of the city in Zhejiang Province, wrote on Thursday.

Rights observers have also expressed growing concern. “The use of the word ‘lock’ can be quite inaccurate when used in China compared to the rest of the world,” said Maya Wang, a senior researcher at Human Rights Watch, adding that it did not fully reflect the seriousness of the situation.

Residents of the funds turned to groups to buy wholesale supplies, but access to these roads is beyond the reach of the most vulnerable. “If you are poor or disabled or old, you can often be excluded from these resources or unaware of these resources. The consequences could be dire, “Wang said, commenting on reports that some elderly people had died during the blockade after not having access to vital drugs.

Strict blockade of the cosmopolitan city of 26 million is emerging as the biggest challenge to China’s strict policy of “dynamic zero” Covid. Analysts say easing the restrictions is unlikely before the 20th National Party Congress in November, where Chinese leader Xi Jinping is expected to run for a new five-year term.