Desperation builds in Shanghai with another Saturday in lockdown, where they’ve been for more than a week.

While you may be enjoying your weekend, there is a chance that Covid will still be in your thoughts. Residents of Shanghai, a city with 25 million inhabitants, will spend Saturday locked down, having been there for over a week.

They are not happy. The pandemic has been around for more than two years and there are many effective vaccines available. Residents are being tested for their patience by the government’s “Zero Covid” approach. This is especially true in Shanghai, which is cosmopolitan as well as economically powerful.

Social media has been filled with angry residents complaining about food shortages and the need to purchase essential goods.

After being refused admission to a hospital, a pregnant woman tested positive for the disease and pleaded for help. According to Bloomberg, protestors at a Shanghai housing development staged an anti-lockdown demonstration and chanted “we need to eat” as well as “we want freedom.” Tencent took down the video.

What is the point of Covid?

This is the Omicron variant’s handiwork. It is the worst outbreak since Wuhan 2020. Since March 31, Shanghai has seen 131,000+ cases and Friday saw more than 21,000 new infections. Authorities have not reported any deaths so far from the wave.

The majority of the world would likely shrug at this caseload… but not China. It has been quick to tell people to stay at home to eradicate any infection they can count. It has avoided the death toll from other countries. However, by continuing to follow this strategy through spring 2022, it is vulnerable to citizens complaining that these policies are worse than the disease.

Shanghai tries to keep its ports and factories running with workarounds (like having employees sleep at the workplace), but it is not possible to lock down major cities without some economic disruption. On upcoming earnings calls, expect to hear deep sighs from American companies about China’s Covid strategy.

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