Shanghai Lockdown

Modellers Predict 1.5 Million Deaths in China if Lockdown is Lifted – But that is Less Than Half the U.K. Covid Death Rate

It appears that China has its own version of lockdown doom-modeller Neil Ferguson and his team. A paper in Nature from a team of Chinese and U.S. researchers has used a model to predict over 1.5 million deaths in China from Omicron should the country cease to impose its brutal controls. The following is from the South China Morning Post.

China could see more than 1.5 million deaths from a wave of Omicron infections without COVID-19 controls and the use of antiviral therapies, a new study has forecast.

A model by Chinese and U.S. researchers suggested that, given China’s vaccine efficacy and coverage, an unchecked outbreak that began with 20 cases of Omicron in March could “generate a tsunami of COVID-19 cases” between May and July.

Such an outbreak is projected to cause 112 million symptomatic cases, or 80 cases per 1,000 people, with 2.7 million of them requiring treatment in intensive care…

The researchers used a mathematical model to simulate a hypothetical Omicron wave in China based on data from the Shanghai outbreak.

“Should the Omicron outbreak continue unabated, despite a primary vaccination coverage of more than 90% and homologous booster vaccination [boosting with the same vaccine] coverage of more than 40% as of March 2022, we project that the Chinese healthcare system will be overwhelmed with a considerable shortage of ICUs,” they wrote.

They estimated that the peak demand of 1 million intensive care beds would be almost 16 times the existing total of 64,000 beds, with a shortage lasting 44 days.

China Digs In and Tightens Shanghai Lockdown in Unrelenting Pursuit of Zero Covid

Shanghai officials over the next few days will further restrict access to food and hospitals in the city, the most severe phase of its extended lockdown yet. BBC News has the story.

Commercial food deliveries are not allowed and access to hospitals for all but emergencies must first be approved. Neighbours of COVID-19 cases and others living close by are also being forced into government quarantine facilities. Shanghai is now in its seventh week of city-wide restrictions.

Confirmed cases have fallen significantly from their peak, but authorities have not yet been able to hit the target of what they call “societal zero”, where no cases are reported outside of quarantine facilities.

Despite the tougher measures, Shanghai officials insist that people living in half the city’s districts are now free to leave their homes and walk around.

State media has shown propaganda videos of departing medical workers visiting city landmarks together and taking photographs.

Official notices from local committees of the ruling Communist Party, seen by the BBC, detail several restrictions imposed under what officials call “silent periods” for the next three days. These include only permitting Government food deliveries, not allowing residents to “step out” of their front doors and requiring approval from the committee for anyone other than emergency cases to access hospitals…

The tightened measures come just days after China’s president Xi Jinping re-iterated his commitment to the controversial ‘Zero-Covid’ strategy. In a paper published in the health journal the Lancet earlier this week, senior Chinese health officials said the lockdown would “buy time to vaccinate more people”.

Their comments come after the head of the World Health Organisation called China’s Zero-Covid strategy unsustainable.

“When we talk about Zero-Covid, we don’t think that it’s sustainable, considering the behaviour of the virus now and what we anticipate in the future,” Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Tuesday at a news conference.

The clip was widely shared on Chinese social media before being blocked by censors. More than two years after COVID-19 first emerged here officials figures show around 90% of the population nationwide has been vaccinated. But only 38% of the more vulnerable – those over 60 – in Shanghai have the full protection [sic] of three vaccinations.

Buy time to vaccinate? How much time do they need, if 16 months isn’t enough?

This lockdown thing is really starting to get out of hand…

Worth reading in full.

Is China’s ‘Great Firewall’ About to Collapse?

China has turned online censorship into a domestic industry, employing two million apparatchiks to suppress dissent. Yet Shanghai’s dystopian Zero-Covid lockdown policy is testing the ‘Great Firewall’ to its limits. Wired has more.

If you search the Chinese microblogging platform Weibo for “Shanghai lockdown” (“上海封城”), you’ll find plenty of videos of deserted streets and emergency workers delivering food. There are fewer signs of the collective outrage, anger, and desperation that has gripped the city’s 26 million residents, who have been confined to their homes since April 5th and are struggling to get hold of food and medicine. You probably won’t find, for instance, a shocking video of pandemic workers clubbing a pet corgi to death after its owners were taken away to be quarantined, although there are references to the infamous incident, which became a symbol of the harsh lockdown conditions.

The situation became desperate as supplies of food ran short days after the lockdown was enforced, and some people were denied access to medical care. In response, residents are dodging China’s notorious online censorship system to document their experiences and vent their anger on sites that include Twitter-equivalent Weibo, the ubiquitous messaging app WeChat, and the Chinese version of TikTok, Douyin.

China has one of the world’s most advanced internet filtering and censorship apparatuses, known as the Great Firewall. Back in 2013, state media said around 2 million people were employed to track content posted online, and Yaqiu Wang, senior China researcher at Human Rights Watch, says censorship has become stricter since then. But the Shanghai lockdown is demonstrating the cat-and-mouse dynamics that are central to social media censorship, even in a country that devotes huge resources to wiping the internet clean from dissent.

“No censorship apparatus is airtight,” says Guobin Yang, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania who studies contemporary China. “Social media censorship in China still relies a lot on human labour. It’s entirely possible that not all censors were motivated to keep up with their job at full speed.”

One video that went viral on Chinese social media, despite censorship efforts to stop it, was entitled the “Voices of April” and was originally posted by a user calling themselves Strawberry Fields Forever. The video combines aerial shots of Shanghai with audio recordings claiming to be made by distressed residents. A man pleads for his sick father to be allowed to go into a hospital; children in quarantine centres cry after being separated from their parents; residents shout from their compounds for the Government to provide them with supplies.

“It went so viral that the censors had trouble censoring it,” says the cofounder of Great Fire, an organisation that tracks censored posts on Chinese social media platforms, who asked to use the pseudonym Charlie Smith. He suggests the video, which was taken down and uploaded several times by different users, could have been viewed millions of times. “The Chinese understand there’s a limit to free expression,” Smith says, especially when it comes to politics. But he believes the Shanghai lockdown goes beyond the usual political debate because so many people are personally affected. That means people are willing to push the limits of free expression they would normally accept, he adds.

Worth reading in full.