Speculating About the Botched Shanghai Lockdown

Tonight, I’ll be putting up two posts with “Speculating” in the headline. Each will provide some information which I hope is accurate, will make some additional observations, and then hopefully readers will provide even better information and ideas and correct any mistakes your humble blogger has made. This post, on where China goes after its clearly messed up Shanghai lockdown, is the more speculative of the two.

From the tea leaves I can read, China has no intention of backing down on its zero Covid policy. Since Covid containment and lockdowns are the responsibility of municipal and regional governments, the slow implementation of the lockdown, which has led to an embarrassing and potentially dangerous num and even worse, Shanghai citizens suffering unnecessarily due to a failure to organize adequate food provision and emergency medical care to the quarantined is a huge administrative failure. But it is Shanghai’s failure. And that raises the interesting question of what the Xi regime will do about it.

Shanghai is so big and so West-connected that it was hard to imagine word of what was happening not getting out. For instance, via -email last week:

Wife has been in touch with multiple of her old classmates in Shanghai.

This is apparently not going well at all in Shanghai. Many of her friends are reporting all kinds of elderly family members starving and dying of medical neglect in their homes. If you are going to have a lockdown you should provide food and care, this is apparently not being done at all. She has shown me dozens of videos of random people having meltdowns in the street. Unlike last year, the PLA is nowhere to be found to arrest them. The angst is growing exponentially by the hour.

It does not help that the leaders of Shanghai have been caught on film living it up in Beijing and other places. My wife informs me that Xi has hated these leaders for a long time. And this may very well be used for their execution.

Yesterday, in Links, Lambert featured several tweets about Shanghai, including some by Eric Feigl-Ding, including of hungry Shanghai citizens arguing with police and the police admitting they didn’t have good answers, particularly about where to get food even if they were let loose.

This section, further down in a tweetstorm Lambert featured, seems accurate:

If you dimly recall the pace of the official response in Shanghai when Covid cases were rising, it was the classic neoliberal “because commerce” line, that Shanghai was too big a port and too much activity depended on it to have a hard lockdown. And the central government initially appeared to waffle, allowing for “dynamic zero Covid” and some local experimentation.

It also seems reasonable to surmise that one of the reasons that Shanghai officials so botched food distribution is they were confident that they were too big to be locked down and thus had not prepared. Of course, one obstacle is that nearly all the food the Chinese eat ex rice or other starches is fresh. But hunger makes things like MREs and ramen noodle packs a lot more appealing.

The Shanghai experiment having been a bust, the authorities in Beijing are making it clear that the Western let ‘er rip approach is a bad idea and China is sticking to an apparently tightened up “dynamic zero Covid.” Global Times is an English language house organ and editorializes more (both formal editorials and pieces ‘splain official views) than Xinhua. For instance:

April 7 GT Voice: Western slander won’t undercut Shanghai’s global attractiveness

April 9 Coexistence with virus the West’s choice out of no choice; China still has better choice: Hong Kong professional

April 10 ‘Omicron just a big flu’ a misperception; some in West attempt to delude Chinese public

April 11 ‘Dynamic zero-COVID policy’ the only way out of current complex situation: Global Times editorial

The last article is a good statement of the current Chinese position. Key sections:

Experts say the Omicron strain might be 10 times harder to contain than Delta. It means that to safeguard life and health, more efforts must be made. Previously, when dealing with the spread of Omicron, South China’s Guangdong Province, East China’s Shandong Province, North China’s Hebei Province, as well as Jilin and other regions have taken strict prevention and control measures, such as quarantine, management, lockdown, and screening, which have led the situation to a positive trend. Practice has repeatedly shown that the key to winning the battle against the epidemic is to adhere to the general dynamic zero-COVID policy without hesitation and unswervingly implement the guidance to cope with the ravaging virus.

Stop for a second. Notice the obvious absence of Shanghai from this list. Continuing:

It is worth noting that some specious voices have come out at the critical juncture when China’s epidemic prevention and control is facing difficulties. They advocated that “the Omicron is a big flu” and that countries such as the US and the UK are “successfully coexisting with the virus.” In public opinion, they have tried to create a “prosperous scene” that Western countries have completely gotten rid of the interference of the epidemic, and they even regarded this as a victory of the West’s “herd immunity.” But these arguments are utterly groundless, morally and scientifically.

Due to Omicron’s strong infectivity, fast transmission and reduced toxicity, some arguments such as “Omicron is just a big flu” have been widely circulated. But overseas data shows that Omicron can generate a higher mortality rate than Delta during the epidemic. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus recently said several countries are now seeing their highest death rates since the beginning of the pandemic. The basic national condition of China is that there are 267 million people aged 60 and above and more than 250 million children. The figure combined surpasses 500 million. Such a gigantic group of seniors and children determines that we must not “lie flat” in any form, but must stick to the dynamic zero strategy, take the initiative in the epidemic fight, and be strict in epidemic control. Only by doing so can we fundamentally avoid a large-scale rebound.

As a matter of fact, “coexisting with the virus” in countries like the UK and the US is nothing but a passive “lying flat” in preventing and controlling the epidemic. The so-called herd immunity essentially means to drive out a large number of the vulnerable people with low immunity. This is a cruel social Darwinism…

Practice has proved that dynamic zero-COVID policy is the best choice for China to fight the epidemic. The severer the epidemic, the more important it is to fully and accurately adhere to the dynamic zero-COVID policy. It is worth emphasizing that some places are causing complexities to people’s normal lives, precisely because they have not implemented the dynamic zero-COVID policy, resulting in a series of problems.

Um, this sure doesn’t sound like China is changing its stance despite the Shanghai debacle. It does come short of accusing Shanghai officials of being captured by the West and favoring profit over lives. But perhaps accusations like that are being made privately and even in some corners of Chinese social media.

Global Times curiously does not mention morbidity risk, that the social Darwinist approach is backfiring. Covid may be clearing out the weak, but is it also damaging the once robust. If anything community-wide health levels are not rising and may be falling.

Naomi Wu gives an update….

And she mentions why Covid can spread faster in China than some other settings:

This observation suggests that when Covid gets going in an apartment building, it will be hard to tamp out, particularly now that masking discipline has fallen.

Needless to say, China has a big uphill battle in Shanghai, but at least they are still fighting. By contrast, it becomes more and more clear here in the West that they really are trying to kill us. From scientist GM:

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  1. PlutoniumKun

    It looks like a lot of senior Shanghainese officials will be looking forward to a bullet in the back of the neck.

    Shanghai has always historically been ‘different’ from the rest of China. It was always less ‘Chinese’ and more outward looking, with a very distinctive culture and language, even before it was forcefully Westernised. Even working class Shangainese always tended to look down on the rubes from the rest of the country. After the Revolution Beijing looked and Shanghai with deep suspicion and kept the city on a tight leash. Shanghai was the last city permitted to cut loose in the 1990’s and go for full speed development. It actually benefited from this as it was able to avoid some of the mistakes made by the first wave of Chinese tiger regions.

    I’ve no idea why they made such an almighty mess of the lockdown, but as Yves suggests, it may simply have been arrogance. Michael Pettis has tweeted that his personal Chinese contacts (i.e. educated western oriented finance types) all think Zero Covid (dynamic or otherwise) is stupid. I doubt most other Chinese share that view.

    The problem from Beijings point of view is that they need Shanghai. Apart from its sheer size and importance as a port, now that HK has been throttled the Chinese elites need its banking expertise to… er… ‘manage’ their foreign portfolios. Not to mention all the other financial and banking infrastructure that is essential for trade. So Beijing will be working out some way to cut Shanghai down to size without actually cutting its throat, in the manner it did with HK.

    As for the Covid situation, given the infectiousness of the Omi variants its will take an exceptional effort to keep it under control As Yves says, even keeping people in apartments may not enough if it can spread unaided through buildings. The situation in HK and ROK shows that it can cause a very high mortality if it runs through a relatively unprotected population quickly. Millions could die.

    1. Dikaios Logos

      IMO, this comment needs to be read and reread by all who are interested. Shanghai is likely at this point even more than Hong Kong the place where China accommodates the world well, but greater China poorly. And that tension might just make it where globalization *really* blows up in our faces.

      Interesting times!

      1. BeliTsari

        Videos of young folks wandering around, in useless masks & ignoring bad HVAC/ spread issues, we’d never bothered to consider, has me guessing we’ll mutate a LOT of new variants, home testing, ADE from treatment; “supply chain,” political and financial upheaval, MASS protests & militarized police, right-wing vigilantes right as “our” party crushes ANY nascent left?


    2. GeorgeSiew

      Shanghai in the chinese popular consciousness is a cesspool of greed and hedonism. These are the most reviled of all sins in chinese morality. The chinese fought many culture wars between the cities and country side. With the cities most extremely represented by shanghai having lost every time. The ccp represents the culture of the country side and traditional chinese morality. Anyone that understands china knows that. Shanghai is not where you look to for the moral center of china but just the opposite. Ppl in china dont worship shanghai, it is an annoying place with annoying people with a very unscrupulous reputation that they tolerate.

    1. Rui

      They probably locked down less than we in the West. And they certainly suffered much less death and disability. Their life expectancy went up while in the USA it went down 2 years.
      Hong Kong screwed things up for China big time, refusing to lock down. Shangai was going the same way. You don’t wait for things to get worse to lock down. You do it as early as possible.
      Carrie Lam is history for the Hong Kong debacle and avoidable carnage. I imagine the Shangai leadership will suffer consequences, and the locals will agree with the consequences.

      China should keep aiming for zero-Covid. It works, for the economy and in saving lives.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        Yes, my impression is way way way fewer lockdowns but much harder when they did have them. By contrast, most lockdowns in the West have been extremely leaky.

      2. Basil Pesto

        note the “they can not lock down forever” canard. It’s precisely because of the fact that, ex Shanghai, in locking down early and hard they have not had to engage in interminably long lockdowns, or live with ongoing restrictions, necessary mask wearing in perpetuity, and the unavoidable death and illness that comes with a Let Er Rip strategy.

        Australia did this in 2020 – we locked down and we locked out – we did this imperfectly but against the weaker variants it was enough. This stopped the disease from being a factor in our day to day lives once the lockdowns ended. Masks were unnecessary. Socialising could be done safely. ‘Freedom’ was attained without having to trade it off with ongoing elevated levels of preventable death and illness – which is of course no kind of freedom at all – as we are now. It was wonderful. All thrown away for the special privilege of joining the rest of the world in failure.

    2. GM

      COVID can be made to completely go away in most of the world within 6 months and from the whole world within 5-10 years, if the political will is there. Technically it’s not that hard.

      The end game here is that a super nasty variant comes at some point and then everyone else is forced to apply the same methods as the Chinese, or will completely collapse socially.

      Such an event is still very much possible, and don’t take my word for it, while there was still SAGE in the UK, their reports were talking about that as a very realistic possibility too.

      And it will catch everyone who has decided to “live with it” completely unprepared because when you are drowning in a sea of COVID you are not going to notice the rain drops falling on your head from the outer bands of the hurricane that is just about to hit you.

      We watched that movie with Delta and Omicron — new variants spread undetected and unimpeded when there are tens and hundreds of thousands of infections. It will happen again and again — you let one in, you let all of them in.

      The Chinese are known for their long-term thinking, and they presumably understand these things very well. So why give up the winning position?

      P.S. Anyone who thinks the West is successfully “living with it” is completely deluded. I work in science and have some contacts in the tech world too, and I can tell you first and second hand how “well” things are doing. R&D has ground if not to a complete halt, to a fraction of what it was. We got shut down initially in March 2020 and that actually looked like a good opportunity to clear the backlog of things that had to be finished. But then it became clear we are not going to actually solve the crisis and the downward spiral (which I predicted immediately when the decision to let it rip was first made) started.

      We got back to work in the summer of 2020, and with masking and low cases in the community things were kind of somewhat normal.

      But then the cataclysmic pre-vaccination winter surge of 2020-2021 came and people dispersed again, and everything was once again disrupted.

      Then people were vaccinated and decided that they can take their masks off, which lasted all of a month-month a half, before the summer-2021 surge started and another disruption.

      Then there was a very brief period of semi-normality in October-November 2021 after which Omicron hit, and once again the lab became deserted (and for the first time for a really good reason — a lot of people did catch it at that time, while almost nobody did during previous waves).

      So basically we had a few brief periods of somewhat normal work over two years. But this isn’t McDonalds, it is research where continuity is of extreme importance, as is direct interpersonal interaction, which is how news ideas get born and developed.

      The end result is that the last two years have been largely a waste, and that things have nearly completely fallen apart — collaboration networks have been disrupted, internal research group cohesion is gone (and it will be hard to rebuild — half of the people have turned over in that time, which is normal, but they have not gotten to know each other at all and the new ones have not been integrated the way these things usually happen under normal circumstances).

      In stark contrast, in China they are kicking our ass now — there were several things I was working on before the pandemic hit that I could never finish because of all the disruption and that have been meanwhile put out by scientists in China. Where work has proceeded without those disruptions.

      So we are rapidly falling behind and will be falling behind further and further if it continues this way.

      All of this is without going into the “highly beneficial” to productivity in intellectually intensive fields effects that the brain damage from repeated COVID infections will have.

      And without talking about the moral injury aspect of it — everyone is extremely demotivated and working at a fraction of their usual levels, even the ones who are under the delusion that “it’s over” (because the overall internally competitive atmosphere in which people pushed each other to do great things is gone), and it has been made abundantly clear to everyone that we are physically disposable. Yes, even we who are supposed to be the best and the brightest (don’t take this the wrong way — I am not thinking of myself as more important than people working “essential” jobs, but society does at the very least give the appearance of seeing it that way).

      It’s an analogous situation in the tech world. They’re still mostly working from home there, but it is not really working out very well. I’ve had this conversation several times. People were sent home during the first lockdowns and there were a lot of projects already in motion to finish, which they did as for that sort of thing — it has been decided what will be done, what is needed after that is for people to go in their corners and do it — WFH works fine. But then the pipeline dried up, just as it did for us in pure research — because people weren’t around each other, there were no new ideas and it became difficult to organize new projects.

      But yeah, we are living with it perfectly fine because on TV they are showing politicians without masks, sports arenas are full without restrictions, and people can go to restaurants. You know, the stuff that is really really really important is giving the appearance of normality, and that is all that matters, right?

      1. Rolf

        Really important post by GM here, I hope all will read it — particularly key points concerning 1) the immoral delusion of ‘“living with it”, where “it” is a mutating virus, and 2) the cessation of productivity in research sciences and technical disciplines where intense collaboration is critical. This kind of interdependent activity takes time to germinate, and can’t be restarted without penalty.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Us didn’t decide to live with it. Them decided that Us would be forced to live with it. Us would have to crush and destroy Them into a state of political and social extinction if Us want to become free to stop living with it.

      2. Hickory

        I’ve heard rumors that covid hits Chinese harder than Americans or Europeans, which partly explains why they locked down so hard so fast. Specifically, higher death rates than seen in the US and Europe. Have you heard these rumors? Could there be anything to that?

        Separately, 500 million seems like a big number, but a US president could have just easily said the sum of elders and children is… whatever it is, 80 million, and it would have sounded just as impressive, and just as much a motivation to act differently.

        1. Basil Pesto

          Covid will impact differently in different regions at different times for various reasons, most notably variable immunity levels according to both vaccine type/recency, and temporary immunity levels from past infections (these temporary immunity levels come at enormous human cost, of course). China is in a pretty weak position as far as these variables go. There are other variables such as baseline health of the population. Ethnicity/genetics has nothing to do with it at scale, if that’s what you’re alluding to.

      3. Les H

        We won’t know for another year. The waning protection of antibodies in six months means that there will probably be another wave of infections by fall. The protection of killer T-cells last a year if not more. If we go for a year or longer without another wave of cases, the population will be much more vulnerable if they’re not receiving boosters.

      4. ChrisRUEcon

        > … if the political will is there

        Nowhere to be found in the west. NZ was going along well enough …. but then …

    3. Mikel

      There are plenty of things tha can be done orher than psycho, death cult economy “let ‘er rip”…some surprises are in store for that denial.

  2. drumlin woodchuckles

    Perhaps the Greater Shanghai region can be sealed off from non-Shanghai all around it, and then sufficient food, water, etc. sent into Shanghai across the “sealoff membrane” so that the Shanghainese authorities can get hunger, thirst, etc. relieved without permitting Shanghai to spread newest-covid to non-Shanghai.

    If the sealoff membrane around Shanghai can be made airtight and watertight, so that zero Shanghai covid can spread out through the sealoff membrane, the Central Authorities might even decide to let Shanghai let covid rip inside the sealoff membrane. And if it turns out badly enough within the sealoff membrane, the Central Authorities can say . . . . ” Well . . . Shanghai tried it the Western Way, and look how it turned out for Shanghai. Are the rest of you people re-convinced to stick to Dynamic Zero Tolerance and Zero Spread? You are? Good. No more Shanghais in THIS country.”

    I hope the ChinaGov can make it work. ” China is the human future” is better than “there is no human future at all”, if that is what the choice is forced to come down to.

    1. ambrit

      Decent idea, but the sheer size of municipal Shanghai would act against the idea, unless, China were willing to cut off all the foreign trade that flows through the city and port of Shanghai. These things aren’t easy to shift from one port to another. This is a situation where the sheer complexity of the system holds it as a hostage to fate.
      Crazy as it sounds, I would speculate that the only group that could conceivably benefit from a world wide “let ‘er rip” policy would be our Zeta Reticulan Shadow Masters.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        Omicron has a very short infection cycle, as in three days from exposure to infection, v. 5ish for Delta. That means it explodes and burns out faster. So a two week hard lockdown would probably do.

        And the Xi regime disagrees with your calculus. They’d rather lose the dough than have five million dead.

        1. ambrit

          Then Pekin had better go all hard on the Shanghai authorities. If, as the article suggests, the problem is inefficiency and corruption in the Shanghainese elites, then firing squads might be a real possibility, preferably with trials first.
          If Pekin does assert their authority in Shanghai, it will be seen widely as a repudiation of neoliberalism. Another reason for Pekin to act decisively.

        2. John k

          Maybe more so now. The dough they lose is dollars, maybe wondering if they need more following Russia 300B confiscation.

      2. Mikel

        A zero covid strategy would involve a rethink of stacking people in densely populated buildings…a total rethink of urban planning.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Tokyo is one of the most densely populated cities in the world and I gotta tell you, Japanese apartments are tiny. While Japan has not gone zero Covid, its infection and death rate has been lower than Western norms. I attribute it to the Japanese thinking masks are respectful, not being very talkative (they think Western verboseness is self absorbed and rude; Japanese children are told, “You should hear one thing and understand ten”), and being big on cleanliness.

          1. Mikel

            Ventilation differences?

            Air quality differences?

            I think those could be big factors – next to masking. Japanese tourists wear masks if they are not feeling well. Respect.

          2. PlutoniumKun

            I’ve often wondered if the common older type of Japanese apartment, with shared open decks and external steps rather than corridors and lifts might be a significant aid in preventing infection.

          3. Raymond Sim

            “Outdoors” in any urban environment, or even what passes for suburbia where I live, is one where movement of both humans and air is constrained in such a way that both tend to linger on the same grid of streets. And the air drawn into the buildings where the humans spend the rest of their time is often pulled out of that same zone. The potential for ‘open air’ spread of Covid, dependent on atmospheric conditions is obvious but, if indoor studies are any guide, would generally be brought to near zero by universal masking.

            Weather conditions where outdoor superspreading in urban neighborhoods becomes plausible are not uncommon. Conditions that could lead to calamity in America, might not even move the r-number in Japan.

            Masks are a BFD!

        2. PlutoniumKun

          There is no significant connection between urban density and covid spread. Its all about ventilation and how populations mix. High density cities have generally been hit first because of their international flight connections. Repeat studies have shown that the key to the spread is super spreader events, and these occur in public areas, not in homes.

          With proper design there is no reason why high density blocks cannot be made reasonably safe. In many ways, its easier to deal with small apartment units in a block than scattered housing, especially if the housing is in multi-occupancy.

          1. Raymond Sim

            There is no significant connection between urban density and covid spread.

            I don’t think the study you cite actually demonstrates this. Because the dynamics are nonlinear, changing prevalence can alter geographic and temporal patterns of risk out of all recognition, and their analysis goes out the window.

            1. Yves Smith Post author

              Far and away the worst Covid incidence in Alabama, both in case levels and death rates, was in Loudon County, which has all of 11,000 people. I’m sure there are plenty of other Loudon County analogues.

              1. Raymond Sim

                How many grocery stores in the county? What are church attendance rates like?

                From the standpoint of contagion, the effective density of rural areas, and poorer regions generally, can be quite high.

            2. PlutoniumKun

              There are multiple references within that study to smaller scale case studies, I chose that link as one of the few that take a bigger picture. Yes of course there are multiple non-linear patterns. Thats the point. No clear link between density and covid has been established, the disease pattern is far too complex for such a simplistic conclusion.

              1. Raymond Sim

                There are multiple references within that study to smaller scale case studies, …

                The results of which are irrelevant to the matter being investigated if a change in prevalence can drastically change the pattern of risk.

                …Yes of course there are multiple non-linear patterns. Thats the point. No clear link between density and covid has been established, the disease pattern is far too complex for such a simplistic conclusion.

                The ability to draw some “simplistic” conclusions about boggingly complex phenomena is what makes nonlinear dynamics a big deal. For instance, I don’t think the studies in the article can take into account of the kind of “phase change” phenomona that so often arise in complex systems. If the liklihood of a shift to more a more dangerous phase relates to density then density matters, but this role might not be apparent from the comparisons made.

                Also, there’s density and then there’s density. See my response to Yves above.

      3. drumlin woodchuckles

        The ChinaGov could use the Peoples Liberation Army to take part in sealing Shanghai off from the non-Shanghai surroundings. If needed, they could shoot dead on sight any Shanhainese trying to flee the city in order to infect the rest of the country. They could shoot down any airplane daring to fly out of Shanghai. They could blow up any train daring to attempt to leave Shanghai. They could sink any ship, boat or raft trying fo move upstream or downstream out of Shanghai. They could treat Shanghai as a Bubonic Plague City to be rigidly quarantined and contained if they decide that is what they have to do to make sure that what happens in Shanghai stays in Shanghai.

        They might even decide to lose 5 million people within Shanghai in order to save the other 1 billion four hundred million people outside of Shanghai.

        After all, they showed what they are prepared to do at Tien An Men Square. And mass coviditis is a more genuine threat than Tien An Men was.

    2. SocalJimObjects

      I think Shanghai is already sealed off from the rest of the country. At least that’s what my teacher told me. Locking down Shanghai is a big undertaking in the first place given the size of the city. To give an idea of how big Shanghai is, it’s approximately 8 times the size of New York City, and it’s also the most populous city in China at 26 million(?) people give or take. Again, my only source of information is my teacher and it seems like the competence of your neighborhood committee matters quite a bit. She lives near Hongqiao, a MAJOR transportation hub in Shanghai, and her apartment block was sealed off a couple of days earlier than the rest of the city. You can probably guess why. Anyway, her neighborhood committee hasn’t let her down yet. She’s had two deliveries of supplies over the last week, and she said to me just two days ago, that other than being bored out of her mind, she is ok.

  3. thoughtful person

    The virus is the same everywhere, it spreads through the air.

    Thus airborne spread mitigation is the top priority. These include the many layers of swiss cheese we’ve discussed over the past years:

    Wear best masks available (and comfortable for long use! Behind head straps) perhaps sheids, in high risk venues

    Run air filters (hepa ideal) at home, work [see Corsi box]

    Ventilation as much as possible (balance with temperatures)

    Contact tracking
    Isolation and quarantine…

    Do everything there is no single method which is 100% effective.

    Reading about use of surgical masks is worrisome.

    1. ambrit

      More worrying is the almost complete absence of masks of any sort to be seen in public here in the North American Deep South.
      My recent first hand observations here in our half-horse college town suggest that the next big Coronavirus wave will probably infect the PMCs and adjacent social classes. The weak and compromised have been winnowed out somewhat. Now we get to see how a more physically robust population deals with the virus.
      Oh, and what about the new variants arising out of South Africa? Not much ‘news’ about them yet.
      I hope that Thuto is taking care of him or her self. It is looking like that with all of the obvious propaganda now being passed off as “news” in the MSMs, direct observations from the source on sites like this one are perhaps our only saving grace.
      Stay safe! Stay vigilant.

      1. Joe Well

        It’s not just the deep South.

        Yesterday I went to Worcester, Massachusetts, 1 hour drive from downtown Boston. Hardly any masks among customers of businesses and only a minority of workers wearing them. Boston proper is trending in that direction.

          1. JBird4049

            And in the Bay Area at least in the few areas I go to, the maskless are outnumbering the masked. (bangs head on keyboard)

            I have said it here before, wearing them is annoying, but when even cheap cloth masks can significantly reduce transmission, why not do it? Unless you do not care about your fellow human beings?

    2. Carla

      Surgical masks are the only thing hospital personnel, including nurses and doctors, are wearing — at least outside Covid-positive areas, if they still have such things in hospitals…

      Has anyone else tried the anti-viral nasal sprays now being manufactured in Israel (Enovid) and India (SanNOtize)?

  4. Mikel

    If they aren’t doing more to improve ventilation, especially in what are many crowded high rises, it’s just lockdown theatre.

    And the public restrooms….what is changing there?

    Senior homes…would definately want residents to have individual restrooms.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        When I first visited rural China in the 1990’s, the exceptionally high level of ventilation for public restrooms was indeed one of the most striking features.

        1. ambrit

          Snark or no snark? (Serious question.) My parents did a backpack tour honeymoon through the South of France in the early 1950s. One thing my Mom remembered vividly from the rural areas were the outdoor “bathrooms” used for even shops and pubs. “One side of the wall said ‘Hommes,’ and the other side said ‘Femmes.'”

          1. PlutoniumKun

            I prefer to use irony to snark….

            Nearly every westerner I met travelling in rural China at the time confessed to doing their best to induce constipation. Any discomfort was minimal compared to the alternative options. Although even back in the 1990’s, the shock was shared with any younger members of the new Beijing middle classes travelling inland to visit relatives.

            Having said that, the authorities of the Mao and after era had done a very good job at minimising the water and sewage borne parasites that had been the bane of rural Chinese for millennia. There is a reason why salads are not a Chinese traditional dish.

  5. The Rev Kev

    Just going to speculate here, but…what if the Shanghai leadership decided that enough was enough and if Beijing was not going to get off the pot, then they would decide China’s pandemic response instead for them. That they were going to let it spread and as Shanghai is so huge, that it would spread to the rest of China and everything would be back to normal. A 2019 normal that is.

    So now Beijing is giving Shanghai a taste of what their ‘normal’ looks like and thus alienate the people of Shanghai from their leadership. The food shortage is a taste of this and I would not be surprised to see Beijing eventually send in the army with food and supplies to help the people of Shanghai in contrast to what their leadership has done for them. So Shanghai gets to be ‘object lesson’ of what the western style way of dealing with the pandemic looks like.

    1. curlydan

      I think Shanghai did get kind of fed up with the idea of zero Covid, and from its more Western influence, decided to proceed with a different strategy.

      That strategy is now being stress tested and apparently found wanting.

      I don’t think that Beijing has any malicious intent though with food distribution. I suspect Shanghai is just having trouble with the food deliveries without Beijing’s involvement.

      I do think that Beijing will get involved to fire some people (hopefully not in the “gun” term) in various Shanghai positions. I think other cities are attuned to this possibility. Guangzhou appears to be taking matters more seriously with intra-city lockdowns based on 27 cases on Sunday and just today cancelling all in school instruction for elementary and middle schools.

    2. Some Guy in Shanghai

      Your first paragraph is widely speculated here to be what happened, while some think it’s part of a power struggle to prevent Xi from getting another term in October

  6. Ignacio

    Whether Beijing succeeds, I bet for it, the very same problem will reappear now and then until at some point they give up. If new variants coming are less virulent or at least not more virulent compared with current ones this will result in many less casualties as held elsewhere. I don’t know when and how but I don’t think they will be able to keep 0 Covid policies forever.

    Being Shanghai such a large populated urban region, chances of Covid finding reservoirs increase and new waves after a protracted lockdown cannot be ruled out even without external entries.

  7. Joe Well

    East Asians, being much healthier than Westerners on average, would be more likely to notice the effects of COVID, not to mention long COVID, wouldn’t they?

    Would reduced lung capacity, heart arrhythmia or brain fog really be noticeable to a Westerner who rarely walks anywhere and whose mental universe is filled with video games, reality TV and the Marvel extended cinematic universe?

    Maybe that explains the difference in attitudes.

    1. Anthony G Stegman

      Are you sure that East Asians are much healthier than Westerners on average? Many Chinese suffer from high blood pressure and diabetes. In addition, obesity is becoming a problem too along with heart disease. Especially in urban areas. Fat farms are a growing business in wealthy coastal areas.

    2. Basil Pesto

      ah yes, notoriously unpopular in China and East Asia: trash TV, trash movies, and video games.

    3. kareninca

      The air quality in many East Asian cities is so bad that it creates serious health problems in people who would otherwise be well. Also the food is often polluted; we were told by an (ethnically Korean) friend who grew up in China that her family soaks their vegetables and fruits for hours in an attempt to remove pollutants.

  8. Joe Well

    East Asians, being much healthier than Westerners on average, would be more likely to notice the effects of COVID, not to mention long COVID, wouldn’t they?

    Would reduced lung capacity, heart arrhythmia or brain fog really be noticeable to a Westerner who rarely walks anywhere and whose mental universe is filled with video games, reality TV and the Marvel extended cinematic universe?

    Maybe that explains the difference in attitudes.

  9. SocalJimObjects

    Another proof that the Chinese government is not giving up. This is from SCMP (South China Morning Post)’s Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=penT47JW-y8 …. Medical workers are being brought in from all over China to Shanghai, including some who battled the original Wuhan outbreak.

    Some US consulate workers however are fleeing already. “The US embassy said Saturday it would permit non-essential employees to leave its consulate in Shanghai due to the case surge, warning citizens in China they may face “arbitrary enforcement” of virus curbs.” https://www.france24.com/en/live-news/20220410-china-slams-us-virus-accusations-as-shanghai-lockdown-drags-on

  10. Tom Stone

    Here in Sonoma County “The Pandemic is over”, festivals that were cancelled the last few years are being held again, mask wearing is almost non existent, and the choirs are happily singing praises to the lord.
    Signs on stores and restaurants say “No mask needed if you are vaccinated”.
    Happy days are here again!!!


    1. Anthony G Stegman

      In Man Jose where I live the city restricted access to city owned facilities to only those who were vaccinated AND boosted. Recently, they relaxed all restrictions. No proof of vaccination required. The policy change apparently was guided by community transmission levels which we all know have gone up, gone down, gone up again, and for now down again. The roller coaster ride has not ended, so expect more turbulence ahead (as the airline captain might announce to the passengers). I continue to mask up in indoor settings. I feel naked without a mask on.

  11. Altandmain

    I’m Chinese Canadian.

    My mother tells me that the residents of Shanghai have always seen themselves as distinct from other Chinese and tend to look down at times from other Chinese. Since her family has been to Shanghai before, I do put considerable weight in what she abs said here.

    Apparently the government let the city adopt a looser approach compared to the rest of China, which was under much stricter lockdown against the Omicron variant. The lockdowns in Shanghai had the local residents pushing back against the central government in Beijing much more than other cities in China.

    This is very much a failed experiment. For those unaware, China often allows for regional experiments and then lessons learned. I suspect that the central government will have to the best they can given this experiment. I suspect that the local leadership will be held to account.

    It may very well be that the government has to send in the military and get it under control to distribute food. One mistake they made was in the quarantine facilities having asymptomatic and symptomatic cases live together.

    There are mass testing systems being done on a scale much more aggressively than in the Western world. I just hope that they get it under control and emphasize ventilation.

    My read on this is as follows. Yes, a heavy handed approach will upset the locals, but I think that the government sees them as to blame for this situation. A let it rip approach will do much more damage than a clamp down, especially with the rest of the nation.

    One thing that I have noticed is that the Western media is pretty much rooting for the Chinese to fail, so be careful about what you read from the Western media. The West has handled the pandemic badly enough that China is making them look bad. The Chinese government has made its share of mistakes, but overall there is a level of competence lacking in many Western countries.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      There could be two theories of why the Western Establishments directs the MSM to root for China to fail in controlling covid.

      Theory #1: the Western Establishment wants to make China weaker with mass covid to avoid China outlasting the West and ruling the world.

      Theory #2: the Western Establishment wants to prevent China from becoming a better example of how to handle covid. The Western Establishment’s main goal for its own internal subject populations is to make us all get covid over and over and over again in order to kill several hundred million of us slowly over the coming decades, while making it look like an unavoidable accident. If China visibly succeeds in shutting covid down, that makes it harder for the Western Elite to keep spreading covid all over the Western World without its Western subjects suddenly having a “Pearl Harbor Moment” awakening and all somehow revolting en masse in order to exterminate their Western Elite ruling classes in order to set themselves ( ourselves) free to begin controlling covid with methods designed to control it.

      By now, my fellow commenters suspect that I support Theory #2 as being the more likely explanation of why the Western MSM roots for China to fail at conrolling covid.

  12. Mr. Phips

    “Firing squads”, “bullet in the neck”? What is this? Do some people still think China nowadays is like the China of 50 years ago? There hasn’t anyone been killed in China by a firing squad in many years. The bullet in the neck is for grave offenses. Messing up the lock down in Shanghai can and will cost some high charges their posts, and some other mid and low level functionaries will be reprimanded and/or punished. That’s how it works there. I know because SHA was my second home until 2020.
    And yes, I totally agree with “One thing that I have noticed is that the Western media is pretty much rooting for the Chinese to fail, so be careful about what you read from the Western media”. Talking with my friends there just today, I again was made aware that no matter what we see in the news happening there right now, everything is relative. Thousands of people shouting and complaining is really not that much in a city of 25 Million…

      1. Anthony G Stegman

        In the West everyone lawyers up, cases drag on for decades, and ultimately nobody is held accountable. The Chinese method is more appealing to me.

    1. Anthony G Stegman

      I have a friend in Beijing with whom I am in regular contact via WeChat. We text and have video calls. For her life is totally normal. She continues to work from home, meets with friends, takes her cute doggie Harry for walks, cooks delicious meals, etc…I know that Beijing is not Shanghai, but western media chatter about China in general (along with Russia) is often heavily biased in order to deflect criticism away from western elites who have made such a mess of things.

    2. Basil Pesto

      Talking with my friends there just today, I again was made aware that no matter what we see in the news happening there right now, everything is relative. Thousands of people shouting and complaining is really not that much in a city of 25 Million…

      This is a fair point. Much was being made in certain corners of USian media about anti-lockdown protests in Melbourne last year, when they were only ever a fringe concern. Of course, lockdowns are extremely unpopular now across the whole Victorian population (bound to happen when they are unnecessarily long bc austerity, and when they are not executed properly for the right reasons – the well has been poisoned), but most people just got on with it because they thought the lockdown for the sake of vaccine deployment was the right thing to do (even though it wasn’t, as I was shrieking at the time to anyone who cared to listen, and here we are, 6000 unnecessarily dead and a much shittier way of life for all and sundry later).

  13. anon y'mouse

    i may be crazy, and this may not work at all but if i were living in one of those units, i would close off every basin with stopper and an inch or two of water and let it sit in the tub, sink etc to create my own “trap”.

    this does make me wonder how their toilets are designed.

  14. DAve in Austin

    Naomi Wu describes why Covid can spread faster in Chinese high-rises than some other settings:

    “Chinese plumbing does not have traps- and this has made fecal aerosol transmission an issue. Cooking range hoods without roof fans are another issue- great breakdown on indoor transmission routes here:https://t.co/iLidcI7WWD — Naomi Wu 机械妖姬 (@RealSexyCyborg) April 11, 2022″

    This was a surprise to me so I followed the links and got: https://elpais.com/especiales/coronavirus-covid-19/how-infected-air-can-flow-from-one-apartment-to-another/

    This is actually a big deal. And the article doesn’t talk only about plumbing traps but also about how bathroom ventilation and fecal aerosol works and Covid gets transmitted from one apartment to another. These are serious and not easy-to-fix problems.

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