Shanghai: Residents clash with police after homes seized for Covid quarantine

Chinese censors quickly branded live coverage of the heated exchanges ‘dangerous content’

Namita Singh
Friday 15 April 2022 19:20
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Rare scenes of public protest were captured in locked-down Shanghai on Thursday as residents clashed with the police over the government’s decision to convert their homes into Covid quarantine facilities.

A video shared widely on Chinese messaging platform WeChat showed residents of Zhanjiang compound in the eastern Pudong district clashing with 30 hazmat suit-wearing police officers, as they pleaded with the officers to let them remain in their rented apartments.

The clash broke out on Thursday after police moved in to convert nine residential buildings in the compound to temporary isolation facilities, reported the Financial Times.

The livestream, watched by more than 10,000 people, was abruptly cut by WeChat as censors announced that the clip contained “dangerous content”.

“It’s not that I don’t want to cooperate with the country, but how would you feel if you live in a building where the blocks are only 10 metres apart, everyone has tested negative, and these people are allowed in?” said the woman making the video, before it ended.

While the veracity of the video was not independently verified, the management of the residential complex confirmed the dispute, reported Reuters.

The authorities converted five vacant buildings belonging to the Zhangjiang Group into quarantine facilities, according to the group which also owns the compound. It added that nine other building would also be used for the same purpose.

The clash broke out because when the “company organised the construction of the isolation fence, some tenants obstructed the construction site”, the group said in a statement, adding that the situation was resolved.

A witness told Reuters on condition of anonymity that workers turned up on Thursday afternoon and police followed shortly after. This “place is completely unsuitable to become a quarantine centre”, said the woman, as she expressed fears of catching Covid from the infected individuals.

Under China’s zero-Covid policy, everyone who tests positive must be isolated at a designated facility, with neighbours required to remain in isolation as well, stoking public fear about the consequences of catching the virus.

Home to about 26 million people, Shanghai has become the epicentre of China’s largest Covid outbreak since the pandemic began in the country, recording more 300,000 infections since March.

Authorities are rushing to construct beds to house Covid patients, with the city being forced to convert schools, recently finished apartments and exhibition halls into isolation facilities. The city announced that it has set up another 160,000 beds across more than 100 makeshift hospitals as it attempts to tackle the daily spike in infections.

Covid cases in Shanghai dipped on Friday but remained at around 23,000 daily infections. And while this was down from around 27,000 new cases on Thursday, Friday’s figures included a record 3,200 symptomatic cases, compared to 2,573 the day before.

Additional reporting by agencies

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