Negative and Forced Quarantines: Despite containment in Shanghai and drastic measures to combat Covid, healthy residents are also being quarantined to stop the contagion.
25 million people in Shanghai were isolated for a month
For two years, China has faced its worst outbreak since spring 2020. In the metropolis of Shanghai, by far the hardest hit and whose 25 million residents have been isolated for a month, anyone who tests positive, even asymptomatic, is being sent to a collective quarantine center – with variable comfort and hygiene.
It happens that in the middle of the night, residents are put on buses for evacuation. Many residents are outraged by these lockdown measures. Especially since a negative test is no longer necessarily synonymous with peace of mind. Several people who tested negative told AFP they were forced to leave their homes to self-isolate outside of Shanghai. Several hundred kilometers from the city. “We had no choice,” says Lucy, a resident who prefers not to reveal her last name for fear of possible reprisals. “The police told us that there were too many positive cases in our house.”
According to the police, staying there meant risking infection. And, ultimately, to reduce official losses as China pursues a zero Covid policy. Shanghai reported 7,137 new positive cases on Monday, a slight drop in 24 hours.
“Scary” quarantine center
Moved with her neighbors in the middle of the night, Lucy was sent more than 400 km from her home to a temporary quarantine center in eastern Anhui province. This resident does not know when she will be able to return home. His misadventures are far from an isolated incident. AFP was able to talk to other Shanghainese who were also sent to solitary confinement in other provinces.
A resident of the Jing’an district, famous for its eponymous temple and trendy cafes, testified on condition of anonymity. At her residence, “all negative cases have been called” to leave their homes, she said. The positive cases were “transferred to hotels to (there) be isolated,” said the resident, who also ended up in Anhui at a “scary” quarantine center.
According to her, in connection with the current situation, comrades in misfortune at the place of residence “have lost all confidence in the Shanghai authorities.” Another resident interviewed by AFP says his neighbors’ determined resistance has in no way deterred the authorities from imprisoning them outside of Shanghai.
The controversial measure reflects “heavy pressure” from the authorities on local authorities to achieve zero cases, said Yanzhong Huang, a health specialist at the Council on Foreign Relations in the United States. Public servants have been regularly fired for alleged violations since the outbreak. Therefore, to protect themselves from such a sanction, some officials tend to resort to “excessive measures,” Mr. Huang said.
However, moving negative patients could also be a matter of “prevention” as authorities expect an increase in infections within a certain perimeter. Several tens of thousands of contact persons have been placed in solitary confinement in provinces bordering Shanghai, according to the New China official agency. However, there is no mention of negative cases in the media. Shanghai City Hall did not respond to AFP’s requests for clarification.