China lawyer Mark Schaub returned to London after three months of quarantine in Shanghai, including a COVID camp. He looks back at the experience in his resumed China Chit-Chat. How bad was it really? How different is it from the US? And: are his Chinese friends leaving Shanghai?
How tough was Shanghai’s lockdown?
My impression is that Shanghai’s lockdown was tougher than similar European lockdowns – no going to the supermarket, no pharmacies, no exercise – but not as inhumane as often portrayed in Western media. Many poorer people suffered greatly but this is not unique to China’s lockdown.
One group that suffered in particular were the elderly – Shanghai’s lockdown was in many ways an e-lockdown. Many elderly Chinese people have modest lives and do not own a smart phone. A smart phone is needed to show your PCR test result and obtain the green code. Without a green code you cannot not go about your normal life (e.g. get on a bus, enter a shop or even come back home). Many older residents also rely upon their family – isolation hit them especially hard.
I think many forget how tough Western lockdowns were – in London there was no mixing outside your social bubble, difficulties accessing medical care, you could not visit critically ill loved ones, no funerals, … it was a lonely and isolating time. Shanghai’s had all that toughness and more … but its advantage was its relative brevity and geographic containment. If China was doing its lockdown when the West was doing theirs I assume it would not have been much of a media topic.
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