shanghai blockades pandemic hit buildings fuelling fresh outcry - Shanghai blockades pandemic-hit buildings, fuelling fresh outcry

SHANGHAI (REUTERS) – The Shanghai authorities battling an outbreak of Covid-19 have erected mesh barriers outside some residential buildings, sparking fresh public outcry over a lockdown that has forced much of the city’s 25 million people to stay at home.

Images of workers clad in white hazmat suits sealing entrances of housing blocks and even closing off entire streets with roughly 2m-tall green fencing went viral on social media on Saturday (April 23), prompting questions and complaints from residents.

“Isn’t this a fire hazard?” asked one user on social media platform Weibo.

Another said: “This is so disrespectful of the rights of the people inside, using metal barriers to enclose them like domestic animals.”

The Shanghai government did not respond to a request for comment.

Most of the barriers appeared to have been erected around compounds designated as “sealed areas”, which are buildings where at least one person has tested positive for Covid-19 and whose residents are forbidden from leaving their front doors.

Reuters was not able to verify the authenticity of all the photos and videos.

Shanghai, China’s largest city and most important economic hub, is battling the country’s biggest-ever Covid-19 outbreak with a policy that forces all positive cases into central quarantine facilities.

The lockdown, which for many residents has lasted over three weeks, has fuelled frustration over difficulties accessing food and medical care, as well as over lost wages, family separation, conditions at quarantine centres and censorship of efforts to vent online.

It has also exacted a toll on the world’s second-largest economy, with factory efforts to resume production disrupted by snarled supply chains and difficulties faced by locked-down residents returning to work.

The city reported 39 new deaths from Covid-19 for April 23 versus 12 the previous day and by far the most during the current outbreak.

It did not report any deaths from Covid-19 during the first few weeks of its latest case surge, fuelling doubt among residents about the figures.

It has since reported 87 fatalities from Covid-19, all in the past seven days.

New case numbers ticked down slightly for Saturday, but remained in the tens of thousands.