Here clashes in the middle of the street, there workers running away from their factory: confinement is starting to weigh heavily on the nerves of Shanghainese, after 40 days of restrictions.
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China’s largest city locked down its 25 million people in early April in hopes of stemming the worst COVID outbreak to hit the country since the initial wave in early 2020.
Shanghai officially deplores more than 500 deaths in the space of a few weeks, a carnage for China where the total toll put forward by the authorities barely exceeds 5,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic.
But despite a sharp drop in the daily contamination figure, the authorities are strengthening their arsenal of anti-epidemic measures, in the name of a zero COVID strategy that the communist regime has sold to its population as proof of its political superiority over the West.
In reaction, the population is exasperated and no longer hesitates to come to blows with the police, in a country where protest is not tolerated.
On Saturday evening, residents unhappy with their food supply clashed with local officials in full body suits, according to videos posted on social media.
“Troublemakers” incited residents to cross the boundaries of their barricaded residence and others to throw objects from their windows, local authorities accused in a statement.
The images taken in the Zhuanqiao district, authenticated by AFP, show the inhabitants repelling the police with the cry of “no to police violence”.
The fights follow another incident last week at a factory owned by Apple contractor Quanta, when hundreds of workers forced a roadblock to escape from the production site.
According to the Bloomberg news agency, the workers feared a new turn of the screw in the anti-COVID measures.
Since the start of Shanghai’s quarantine, employees have been sleeping at their workplace in Spartan conditions, unable to return home.
The town hall assures that the Chinese economic capital is winning the battle of COVID, with the number of daily contaminations falling to less than 4,000 on Monday after exceeding 25,000 at the end of April.
The city assures that millions of inhabitants have been able to regain some semblance of freedom in recent weeks. Some can finally leave their apartment, but not their residence.
But several residential complexes have reinstated restrictions, even in low-risk areas, according to notices shown to AFP by residents.
We can read there that it is forbidden to leave your home for several days except to undergo a screening test. And it is no longer a question of having food delivered.
Families fear being taken to a quarantine center even if their tests are negative, for the simple fact of having a positive case in their neighborhood.
“We were warned that we should leave our keys so that they can come and disinfect the apartment,” a Briton living in Shanghai told AFP.
Images of disputes between officials and residents flourished on social networks before censorship erased unwanted content.
On one of these videos, we can see a manager in full dress explaining to a family that they will have to reconfine themselves because they live on the same floor as an infected person.
“We don’t do what we want here, you’re not in the United States, you’re in China,” he said at the door of the apartment.
“And stop asking why. There’s no why. These are the national rules.