China’s new move to turn residential buildings in Shanghai – the latest Covid hotspot – into quarantine centres has sparked a fresh controversy, reports said, as protests broke out among locals who were worried over the risk of getting infected. Visuals shared on social media captured clashes between locals and officials in Hazmat suits.
While there was no comment from the authorities, real estate group Zhangjiang Group, according to a Bloomberg report, said authorities had converted five of its vacant buildings into isolation facilities. “On the afternoon of April 14, when our company organised the construction of the isolation fence, some tenants obstructed the construction site,” the group said in a statement, adding the situation had now been resolved.
According to news agency AFP, the incident was triggered as authorities ordered 39 households to move from the compound “in order to meet the needs of epidemic prevention and control” and house virus patients in their apartments, as per the Zhangjiang Group, the developer of the housing complex. An unverified video is also doing rounds on social media that apparently captures the chaos at the protest site.
Ever since the pandemic started, the country has relied on its zero Covid policy to keep the spread of the virus under check. It requires those testing positive to quarantine at designated sites while the neighbours are asked to isolate in their homes for 14 days.
In the last few weeks, however, as China saw a BA.2 variant driven surge, pushing the active caseload to the highest in two years, frustration has been running high among people reportedly complaining of shortage of food and other essentials.
Millions have been locked down in their homes in Shanghai. The city reported 23,000 COVID cases on Friday, down from more than 27,000 the day before, according to Reuters.
However, the number of symptomatic cases in that tally edged up to a record 3,200, from the 2,573 reported a day earlier.
The world’s second largest economy counts symptomatic and asymptomatic cases sepately.
Chinese president Xi Jinping on Wednesday said that curbs and prevention measures would continue.
(With inputs from AFP, Reuters, Bloomberg)