COVID-19 lockdowns in China’s financial capital continue despite promises that residents would be let out after two weeks of quarantine. Three New Englanders who spoke to NBC 10 Boston say they remain trapped in their homes indefinitely.
Confined to their apartment building in Shanghai for over a month, people are growing desperate as they endure one of the world’s most extreme lockdown measures to date in order to contain the spread of the omicron variant.
“The first part of the pandemic compares to nothing to where I am now,” said Roslindale native Jiovani Del Toro. “Now it's at a point in time where we're like, 'Everyone needs to relax.' No one can go outside. Everyone needs to watch out for each other and spray everything.”
Del Toro had been performing at a Shanghai cabaret before the lockdown was announced in late March. He’s now having to spend his 31st birthday in confinement. After a few resets, his last two-week quarantine was up Friday, but said he’s been instructed to stay indoors indefinitely.
“There are blocks on our gates, there are people who are arrested if they go out into the streets,” he said. “It's... it's quite concerning.”
China’s most populous city is home to around 26 million people, about three times the size of New York City. Its residents are yearning to get out.
Some were captured on camera recently kicking down newly installed barriers meant to keep people from leaving their building – it’s the latest measure in what officials there call a "hard lockdown."
“The announcement was that it was going to happen indefinitely. So of course we were angry,” New Hampshire native Gynn Silva said.
Silva has documented her experience through videos recorded early during the lockdown, showing empty streets that would otherwise be packed with commuters. Now, after weeks spent indoors, she’s trying to find ways to stay sane and positive.
“I think that this is another life experience, and certainly not the worst one,” she noted.
Despite these measures, which include daily testing for COVID-19, more than 21,000 cases and 39 deaths were added over the weekend.
As time goes on, food rationing become a greater concern for residents like Newton native Jonathan Crowder.
“The government gave us a bag of vegetables on the first day, and then about 10 days after that I got another government care package of carrots and rice,” said Crowder. “I've been eating very simply.”
Food supply isn’t the only worry -- family separations due to isolation from infection and loss of income because of the paralyzed economy are adding fuel to the fire.
“In Shanghai, people are getting a little fed up with the zero-COVID policy,” noted Crowder. “But I understand their hesitation to open up completely because the health system couldn't necessarily handle that.”
Lockdown fears have spread to the capital Beijing, where mass testing is underway, leading to panic buying at stores and empty shelves. Residents there are worried they might become the next Shanghai.