With the fall of Covid cases in Shanghai, restrictions in China are tightening

Chinese authorities are tightening restrictions on coronavirus in Shanghai and Beijing, listening to the message of the country’s top leader to double the zero-Covid strategy.

In Shanghai, where residents have been in solitary confinement since April 1, private food delivery services have been suspended in some neighborhoods despite cases having dropped to a six-week low. Some residents were told not to leave their homes and that the government would help deliver groceries.

In Beijing, where daily cases rose to 74 on Monday, officials announced that schools would be closed indefinitely and many city employees were told to work from home. Other cities around China continue to pursue various forms of partial or full blockade.

The tightening comes even as China’s daily tally was at its lowest since mid-March, with a nationwide total of 3,426 new cases reported on Monday. Local officials were on alerthowever, since the country’s top leader, Xi Jinping, has urged the country to persist with a strategy of eradicating the virus and not to allow criticism of the approach. Now only in its zero-Covid strategyChina has used its success in keeping infections and deaths low to claim that its centralized governance mode prioritizes saving lives over democracies that have had more deaths from Covid.

Asked about China’s policies at a press conference on Tuesday, the World Health Organization leader criticized the country’s approach.

“We don’t think it’s sustainable considering the behavior of the virus now and what we anticipate in the future,” said Dr. said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “We know a lot about that virus and we have better tools. So these are the additional opportunities we have to make a change. “

City life stood still in Shanghai on Tuesday, where the last two subway lines that had continued to circulate during the city lockdown operations stopped.

City residents also reported that they were informed that they could be sent to government isolation facilities if someone in their building was infected with the coronavirus. Previously, only those who lived on the same floor as someone who tested positive had to go to a government facility.

The rigid policy is attracting more complaints and small pockets of protest that have surfaced online and there have been reports of residents being abused by pandemic workers.

In his message last week, Xi urged officials not to tolerate criticism.

Videos of the neighborhood protests and conflicts between residents and health workers in Shanghai were posted on Chinese social media and quickly deleted. Dissenting voices are also quickly silenced. An economist who warned of the economic consequences had his public social media accounts frozen. An article by a law professor who claimed that forcing people who tested positive to go to hospital was a violation of the law was deleted; his social media account was also suspended.

Residents have expressed fear of being sent to a government facility where conditions apply it can be terrible. Videos of police and health workers dragging people out of their apartments circulated widely online before being censored.

In a video widely shared and verified by the New York Times, a man in a fireproof suit approaches a resident’s window, pointing a finger at her and asking her to go talk to police officers at her door.

The woman is then seen trying to talk to the men through the front door, but many of them break down the door and force their way through. The woman repeatedly asks officers to prove she tested positive before she takes her into solitary confinement. They tell her that she has violated Covid prevention policies and that they have an order from the disease prevention agency to transfer her to an isolation facility. When the switch gets turned on, she takes out her phone to call the police.

One of the men replies: “If I called the police, I would still be the one who comes”.

Isabelle Qian Other Adel Hasan contributed to the reporting e Claire Fu contributed to the research.