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Lockdown blues give way to COVID testing complaints in Shanghai

Image: Reuters Berita 24 English - While Shanghai's two-month COVID quarantine is nearly over, citizens' relief is quickly giving w...

Image: Reuters

Berita 24 English - While Shanghai's two-month COVID quarantine is nearly over, citizens' relief is quickly giving way to aggravation as they face hours of waiting in line for viral tests and the negative findings they must display before being allowed to enter public spaces.

On Wednesday, China's business and commercial hub removed lockdowns for the majority of its 25 million citizens. However, citizens must provide proof of having undergone a COVID test within the previous 72 hours in order to enter facilities such as malls and offices, or even utilize subways and buses.

Thousands of people have been trained to swab throats and 15,000 testing locations have been created. On Wednesday and Thursday, however, long, snaking lines formed in the early summer heat of up to 31 degrees Celsius, with some individuals claiming to have waited for two hours.

One user shared a photo of a sign at a booth warning of a 4.5-hour wait on social media. On Thursday, the hashtag "Shanghai PCR testing" received 190 million views on Weibo.

"I got out of the lockdown nightmare only to find myself in the 72-hour PCR testing nightmare," one Shanghai resident remarked, declining to give her name.

"It's inconvenient, but we don't have an option," remarked another, Xu Xiaojun. "This is for the benefit of everyone."

Similar rules have been implemented in other Chinese cities, including Beijing and Shenzhen, as part of a nationwide zero-COVID strategy that aims to break every infection chain.

Despite widespread dissatisfaction with Shanghai's strict restrictions – the city is still under lockdown for 2.5 million people – China has vowed to stick to its guns. It claims that the zero-COVID policy is necessary to save lives and keep its healthcare system from being overburdened, even as much of the rest of the globe strives to go back to normal despite persistent infections.

COVID testing is becoming more common as a result of this trend: China's goal is to have testing locations within a 15-minute walk of everyone in major cities.

Many Shanghai residents are still concerned about the potential of resuming the lockdown.

Anyone were seen leaving the upscale International Finance Centre (IFC) mall in Shanghai's Lujiazui financial district on Thursday after it barred people from entering or exiting - a routine practice at venues when a positive COVID test result is discovered.

The IFC mall, which is owned by Sun Hung Kai Properties, later published a notification stating that it had reopened at 12.30 p.m. local time after a thorough disinfection, but without verifying whether a positive COVID test had been performed on the premises. Calls to the mall for more information were not returned.

On Thursday, the People's Daily, the official newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party, released an editorial in which it stated that the zero-COVID policy was the most suited for China's position. It also featured a front-page item about Shanghai's return to normalcy.

"In the defense of Shanghai, great, phased results have been achieved."

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