Shanghai lockdown: 26 million people face food shortages as China continues zero Covid policy

While the rest of the world is learning to 'live with Covid', China has been forced into lockdown, with Shanghai facing the brunt of restrictions, ITV News Asia Correspondent Debi Edwards reports

Weeks after the UK government announced its priority was protecting the most vulnerable while we 'live with Covid', leaders in China are attempting to rid the country of the virus.

In their pursuit, as we reported on Wednesday, the major financial hub of Shanghai has been forced into a strict lockdown.

Around 26 million people are currently quarantined within the city, but cases have continued to grow from 3,500 when the lockdown began to more than 21,000 today.

While the Chinese government's plan to stamp out Covid appears to be faltering, the residents of Shanghai feel the brunt of this new government policy.

Meanwhile, complaints have arisen in the city over difficulties obtaining food and daily necessities, while there have been shortages of medical workers, volunteers and beds in isolation wards where tens of thousands are being kept for observation.

Shanghai has converted an exhibition hall and other facilities into massive isolation centres where people with mild or no symptoms are being housed in a sea of beds separated by temporary partitions.

Around 26 million people are currently living under lockdown conditions in Shanghai. Credit: AP

Those who have stayed in these isolation buildings have claimed the lockdown is like living in a box, which has an atmosphere of tension and anger, mostly due to sleep deprivation.

While Shanghai has been placed under the strictest conditions, around 193 million people in China are currently experiencing some form of lockdown.

Millions in the city are reportedly down to their last rations of food.

While local deliveries have been promised over the weekend, supply chain issues have been substantial.

The Port of Shanghai, which is usually the busiest port in the world has had an activity drop off of 30%.

What is life like in Shanghai?

Residents line up to get their throat swab at a coronavirus testing site, Tuesday, April 5, 2022, in Beijing. Credit: AP Photo/Andy Wong

Speaking to people within the city, ITV News Asia Correspondent Debi Edwards has reported the human toll that the lockdown has inflicted. In recent days, the extreme actions of the authorities have been criticised.

The relatives of one older man wheeled his bed in front of their community management office to try to get him taken to hospital.

But because he wasn't sick with Covid, he was ignored. And he subsequently died.

Elsewhere images of a dog being killed have emerged after reports pets were being destroyed after their owners were taken into quarantine.

Two years after the first Covid19 outbreak here in China, the country is facing its biggest containment test so far.

It is unclear how long the lockdown in Shanghai and other cities in China will last, but at this time, the restrictions appear to be doing little to stem growing case numbers.

Concern is growing about the potential economic impact on China’s financial capital, also a major shipping and manufacturing centre.

Most public transport has been suspended and non-essential businesses closed, although airports and train stations remain open and the city's port and some major industries such as car plants continue to operate.

International events in the city have been cancelled. According to a survey conducted last week by the American Chamber of Commerce, three out of five foreign companies with operations in Shanghai say they have cut this year's sales forecasts.

One-third of the 120 companies that responded to the survey said they have delayed investments.

Despite those concerns and growing public frustration, China says it is sticking to its hardline “zero-tolerance" approach mandating lockdowns, mass testing and the compulsory isolation of all suspected cases and close contacts.