Negative and forcibly sent to quarantine: Despite containment in Shanghai and strict anti-COVID measures, healthy residents are also finding themselves in solitary confinement to stop infection.
China, which has been largely spared for two years, has faced its worst outbreak since the spring of 2020 in recent weeks.
In the hardest-hit city by far, whose 25 million residents have been detained for a month, anyone who tests positive, even asymptomatic, is sent to a mass quarantine center — with comfort and changed hygiene.
It happens that residents are put on buses in the middle of the night to be evacuated. Many residents are outraged by these isolation measures. Especially since a negative test is no longer necessarily synonymous with peace of mind.
Several people who tested negative told AFP they had been forced to leave their homes to isolate themselves outside Shanghai. Hundreds of kilometers from the city.
“We had no other choice,” says Lucy, a resident who prefers to keep her family name quiet for fear of reprisals.
“The police told us there were a lot of positive cases in our house.”
According to the police, staying means risking infection.
And eventually to increase the official toll as China pursues a zero COVID policy. Shanghai reported 7,137 new positive cases on Monday, down slightly in 24 hours.
Displaced with her neighbors in the middle of the night, Lucy was sent more than 400 kilometers from her home to a temporary quarantine center in eastern Anhui province.
This resident does not know when she will be able to return home.
His adventure is far from an isolated case. AFP was able to speak with other Shanghai residents who have been sent to solitary confinement in other provinces.
A resident of Jing’an District, known for its eponymous temple and trendy cafes, testified on condition of anonymity.
She says the negative cases in her home have “all received a call” to leave their homes.
The positive cases were “transferred to hotels to (there are) isolated”, identifies this resident, who also found herself in Anhui in a “scary” quarantine center.
Given the urgent circumstances, her fellow residents “lost all confidence in the Shanghai authorities,” she says.
Another resident interviewed by AFP confirmed that the resolute opposition of his neighbors did not in any way prevent the authorities from locking them up outside Shanghai.
Yanzhong Huang, a health issues specialist at the US Council on Foreign Relations, said the controversial measure reflected the authority’s “strong pressure” on local authorities to achieve zero cases.
Civil servants are regularly dismissed for alleged shortcomings, after the emergence of an epidemic outbreak.
To protect themselves from this punishment, some officials are thus inclined to resort to “excessive measures,” notes Mr. Huang.
However, transporting passive patients can also be a matter of “prevention”, with authorities anticipating an increase in cases of contamination within a defined setting.
According to the official New China Agency, several tens of thousands of contact cases have been placed in solitary confinement in the provinces bordering Shanghai.
However, the media does not mention negative cases.
The Shanghai city council did not respond to AFP’s requests for clarification.
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