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Op-Ed: Shanghai lockdown proving everybody wrong as global commercial hub paralysed

The huge lockdown, which has required 26 million people to stay home has become unworkable.

More than 100,000 cases have been reported in Shanghai since March in a test of the country's strict zero-Covid policy - © AFP Hector RETAMAL
More than 100,000 cases have been reported in Shanghai since March in a test of the country's strict zero-Covid policy - © AFP Hector RETAMAL

The news coming from Shanghai is all bad and getting worse. The huge lockdown, which has required 26 million people to stay home has become unworkable. Food shortages and food riots are adding pressure to a very difficult situation.

Information on Twitter is delivering a running commentary and a repetitive but grim message. 26 million people are under way too much stress and the situation is fragmenting severely into a series of riots, looting and extremely difficult pandemic management issues. There are reports of drones with facial recognition software (possible but unconfirmed) flying around giving orders. The general paranoia is obvious.

The only thing doing well is political spin and propaganda. The anti-lockdown brigade are using the lockdown to “prove” their theories. That’s not working out too well for them. The current figures for COVID cases indicate daily infection rates of 25,000 per day, out of 26 million people. That’s a rising rate, but it’s also less than one-thousandth of the total population. Somehow this number proves lockdowns don’t work.

On the other side of the equation, locking down 26 million people was never going to be easy and the cracks are all too visible. Food is a huge issue. Shanghai is one of the world’s biggest cities. Food shortages were inevitable and the strain is showing. There’s an eerie video of people yelling from a forest of tower blocks about food and being confined.

China has reported thousands of daily cases in recent weeks, with economic hub and outbreak epicentre Shanghai placed under lockdown over ballooning infections of the highly transmissible Omicron variant
China has reported thousands of daily cases in recent weeks, with economic hub and outbreak epicentre Shanghai placed under lockdown over ballooning infections of the highly transmissible Omicron variant – Copyright CNS/AFP –

YouTube is literally saturated with a long list of videos showing the city’s extremely difficult situation. Heavy-handed enforcement is also adding a lot of fuel to angry responses from Shanghai citizens.

Maintaining food supplies means maintaining a continuous extremely high volume supply chain possibly for months. The normal food supply chain was shut down and that’s how the lockdown backfired. In other countries, supply chain workers were considered essential workers; in China that doesn’t seem to be happening and it’s not working.

Shanghai cannot be locked down indefinitely. that simply can’t work, and it hasn’t. Adjusting the workforce to alternative productive options has to happen anyway. Rebooting basic business will reduce the psychological strain and get the city functional to some extent.

What hits Shanghai hits the world.

Lost in the maze of issues is the fact that Shanghai is also a gigantic commercial nexus. The city simply isn’t functioning at all. The lockdown has shut down production for foreign companies, shut down Shanghai’s huge multi-sector spectrum of trade, and shut down the livelihoods of the city’s workers. It may well have shut down city commerce completely, another expensive dysfunction that backwashes directly into Chinese national trade.

Another hit to the world is the total lack of effective cooperation in managing the pandemic on a global scale. Initial lockdowns reduced local infection rates. Travel bans limited its spread. Over time, these measures could have severely reduced infection rates and therefore reduced the development of new strains like Delta and Omicron. This is basic immunology.

The eastern half of Shanghai was placed in lockdown on Monday as coronavirus cases in the city swelled
The eastern half of Shanghai was placed in lockdown on Monday as coronavirus cases in the city swelled – Copyright AFP Hector RETAMAL

These very simple measures produced utterly irrational political tantrums that sabotaged basic precautions. Idiotic and inapplicable snake oil theories like “herd immunity” did more damage. (Viruses don’t work like that.)   

As a result of this unbelievable idiocy, COVID has become endemic worldwide. It was avoidable, but lots of totally unqualified people knew better. This is a quite dangerous disease. It has killed millions of people and left many with severe ongoing medical conditions. It’s now much more infectious and far more widespread thanks to the mismanagement of the original outbreak.

The primitive politics is effectively driving the course of the pandemic. In the US, COVID  is an ideological issue. In Russia, COVID is part of the furniture. The infection rate has remained stubbornly high. That’s what’s so significant about Shanghai. Whether you believe China had it under control or not, (I don’t) the pandemic has arrived and it’s likely to be there to stay.

This pandemic will go on until effective countermeasures are in place. There’s plenty of new tech emerging that might be able to do the job. Now is the time for smug professional ignoramuses and shills to get out of the way.

To reiterate, yet again –

Diseases don’t give a damn about your rights or freedoms. This is a virus, not an ideology, you cretins. You can be just as dead whatever political Easter Bunny you follow. The previous “normal” is also dead and it’s not coming back. Enough with the babbling hysteria. Babble never solved anything in the whole of human history, and this situation is NOT getting better.

Deal with it, or it will deal with you.

________________________________________________________

Disclaimer
The opinions expressed in this Op-Ed are those of the author. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the Digital Journal or its members.

Written By

Editor-at-Large based in Sydney, Australia.

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