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The misery of China’s zero-Covid policy

“We’re being driven mad,” said Zhu Weiping, a senior official at Shanghai’s Centre for Disease Control. “Nobody is listening to us. They’ve politicised this disease.” Her candid remarks about China’s zero-Covid policy were recorded and went viral last week, her desperation resonating with people across the country who are “at their wits’ end” over the government’s handling of the pandemic, says Cindy Yu in The Spectator. “Shanghai is buckling: the Covid chaos there is the worst China has seen since Wuhan in 2020.”

The policy of dragging anyone with a positive test into state quarantine is stretching even China’s determination. Every day, Shanghai authorities bus thousands of people into impromptu quarantine centres in “hospitals, gyms, apartment blocks and Shanghai’s World Expo Centre”. Conditions are appalling – one viral video shows inmates complaining about filthy loos, and the lack of food and medicine. And among those stuck at home, “lockdown anger and fatigue has finally broken through”, even on China’s sanitised social media. In one video, a man was filmed “striking a rather heroic look”, striding through empty Shanghai streets maskless and smoking before being bundled into a police car. Another was filmed shouting: “You can shut me away, but you can’t shut Douyin away!” (Douyin is the Chinese version of TikTok.) “We won’t ever know how many Chinese are fed up with lockdown,” but thanks to social media, “more and more people are making their voices heard”.