Shanghai residents feel strain as lockdown extended indefinitely

Vicky, a young Taiwanese professional who lives in Shanghai, has seen her fair share of restrictions since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

There have been lockdowns and restrictions, as well as stories of friends trapped in their offices for 48 hours awaiting mass testing.

Now five days into the latest lockdown, Vicky, who prefers not to share her family name, has found herself doing something entirely unexpected: trying to convince a friend’s rescue dog, Mocha, that it is ok to go to the toilet inside her apartment.

“She is currently staring at me right now with sad puppy eyes like ‘why aren’t we going out?’ and I don’t know how to explain it to her,” Vicky told Al Jazeera by Skype. “So far, I have just tried to communicate to her that one, if you poop on the floor, I won’t be mad at you, and two, if you pee and bathroom it’s fine, I will just hose it down. It’s not a big deal.”

The workaround is just one of many being adopted by Shanghai’s 26 million residents as they find themselves confined to their homes due to a surge in Omicron cases. Under the latest lockdown, they are not allowed to leave their homes for any reason other than to be tested for the virus, and are reliant on city officials for food and basic supplies.

One viral video showed some Shanghai flat dwellers lowering a dog out of the window in a harness to mixed results, while another showed a group of foreigners on a rooftop trying to get the most out of Shanghai’s spring sunshine.


Vicky’s cat lying on the top of the sofa gives a disparaging look at Mocha, a fluffy pale brown dog, who’s sitting on a blanket on the sofa
Vicky is locked down in her one-bedroom apartment with her cats and Mocha, the dog of friends who recently tested positive for COVID-19 [Courtesy of Vicky]
Twitter posts from Shanghai residents shared via VPN – necessary to get around China’s ban on Twitter – document the empty streets, hazmat-suited workers, mass testing, and the sometimes-questionable government food deliveries that have become part of daily life.

Shanghai reported 311 new symptomatic cases and more than 16,000 asymptomatic infections on April 5, the local government announced on Wednesday, with both measures higher than the day before. The wave has been described as China’s most severe since COVID-19 first broke out in Wuhan at the end of 2019. China’s government says it has also dispatched 38,000 healthcare workers from across the country to assist in a mass effort to test the entire population, according to the state-run news agency Xinhua. A further 2,000 military medics have also been sent in to assist.

Originally planned as a “staggered lockdown” to keep China’s most important commercial and financial city semi-functioning, Shanghai’s lockdown has been extended until an unknown date as government officials review city-wide test results, according to state media. Lockdown measures were originally supposed to have ended in the early hours of April 5.