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May 31, 2022

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When and how the resurgence started

A 56-year-old retired woman went to Tongji Hospital with fever on February 28. On March 1, she was confirmed as COVID-19 positive, the first reported case of this outbreak. Eight people from her dance group tested positive subsequently.

Three months later, most Shanghai residents are still confined to their homes or subdistricts amid China’s worst coronavirus outbreak since 2020.

The COVID-19 outbreak has so far infected over half a million local residents. More than 500 people have died.

But in early March, it was irrelevant to most. In the days following the first case, the number of infections reported was in single digits and the low teens.

On March 11, authorities said gene sequencing found that the coronavirus spreading across the city originated from Hua Ting Hotel & Towers, a quarantine hotel for inbound travelers. They cited management loopholes in their report.

To most of the city’s 25 million people, these early cases were press conference numbers. People were yet to grasp the gravity of what lay ahead.

Despite government statements that the city will not go into a full lockdown, the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus spread rapidly.

The number of cases were growing exponentially. On March 23, the city reported 1,609 cases, almost double the previous day’s figure, passing the 1,000-mark for the first time, and the figure surged to 3,500 on March 27.

At 8pm on March 27, the city government decided to respond with mass testing and a phased lockdown to cut the spread of the virus.

In the initial plan, Pudong and Puxi would each go through a four-day lockdown, while residents were not allowed to leave home. It was later extended infinitely.

Faced with concerns like food shortage, lack of medical help, and sometimes family separation during the lockdown, locals resorted to volunteering to ensure their own supplies.

Neighbors fed others’ children, community workers made sure the elderly living alone had meals provided, and tuan zhang (group-purchase leaders) satisfied the craving for a can of coke.

Two months on, more and more districts are easing restrictions.

As the city tiptoes out of this two-month lockdown. Shanghai Daily reporters interviewed stranded travelers, delivery guys, volunteers and warm-hearted neighbors. We asked them to look back on the 60 days and tell us what the pandemic and the lockdown mean to them.

If all goes according to plan, we will see the city returning to normalcy from tomorrow. People need to have faith that the outbreak is coming to an end.


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