In Shanghai, the logbook of the Infinite Prison

In Shanghai, the logbook of the Infinite Prison
Written by Simon Leplatter

Posted at 11:54 am today, updated at 12:48 am.

After six weeks of rigorous imprisonment for 25 million residents of Shanghai, the municipality is gradually regaining control of the situation. On Thursday, May 5, the city announced 4,466 cases per day, up from 27,000 in mid-April. Officially, only 2.54 million people are subject to the most severe restrictions. But, in reality, many residents in the theoretically liberated areas still have no right to leave their homes. Starting from strategic industrial companies, the activity is gradually rising.

March 10: Mass PCR test

Ten days after the outbreak of a new epidemic in Shanghai, I noticed the first alarming symptoms. On my way to the office, I taped off Xiang Yang Park and set up large white tents, indicating that mass PCR testing was about to begin. The situation is not terrible as there were 75 cases then. But, in line with the Zero Kovid strategy applied in China, Shanghai is directly dealing with the problem: the city is quarantining thousands of people, those who are positive for Kovid-19, and even the number of contact cases. On March 12, as a precaution, Shanghai announced the closure of schools and imposed an experiment on anyone wishing to leave the city.

March 16: First imprisonment

While other cities are already limited, the world’s largest container port and China’s financial capital of 25 million residents want to believe in its targeted approach. But the Omicron variant is progressing: from 200 cases on March 15, we go to a thousand on March 22nd. By mid-March, Shanghai had decided to limit the most affected districts to forty-eight hours, a time to double-check the population. At my residence in the old center, volunteers from the Residents Committees, a local Communist Party organization, report the news through loudspeakers at 7 p.m. Through the corridors of the red brick houses, residents, good Chinese, expatriates, and elderly Shanghai move into the adjacent square where the tents are set up.

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Forty-eight hours later, two exits from the residence are still closed: one anti-theft device and the other several people watching. Bavan (“Peacekeepers”), usually working on a risky contract. Thousands of people have been recruited to manage the city of Shanghai. The third day of our detention, which was supposed to last only two days, erupted in anger at the lack of information: the guards handed me a few punches and told me when I got to the site. The police are already there. Finally, the Residents Committee allows us to go shopping nearby.

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