“In April 2020, I went to a rural house and in June I was traveling to an island.” It counts José Sánchez Rodríguez, born in Cordova in 1990 and resident in China since eight years ago, the last three in Shanghai, where he works as director of business development at the company Dragon Trail Interactive. When more than half the world was locked up at home without hardly having heard of the coronavirus, in China they were already beginning to touch normality.
Two years later, things are quite different. Shanghai, economic capital of China and with 26 million inhabitants, is confined after a rebound in covid-19 that already accounts for more than half a million cases. Joseph remembers that the city was never confined, maybe a closed restaurant, but you could leave the house without any problem. Now, they cannot go down to the street door nor can they go out to walk their pets.
“China, at the beginning of the pandemic, did its job well and, even if you did not agree with the policies that were applied, the results were good. When there was no information about the virus and there were no vaccines, many lives were saved, that did not happen in other places, as in Europe. Here the most affected was Wuhan, and nothing else,” says this Cordovan.
What has happened to get to this point?
Let normality come to China before any other part of the world was not a coincidence. In addition to having a tight control over the positives, the country’s entry policy is also solid. This Cordovan says that every person who comes from abroad and arrives in China, whether a foreigner or a citizen of the country, must quarantine in a hotel for two weeks, and then spend another week at home monitoring. All this with numerous previous tests and with authorization. That is to say, it is complicated to enter China and, in addition, the flights are not, what is said, affordable.
Nevertheless, in January everything exploded and it is believed that it was due to a person who entered the country and did not do the week of home quarantine, went to a shopping center and a coffee shop (note, these are all rumours, because in a city of 26 million people, carrying out an exhaustive follow-up is a task that seems difficult, if not impossible). In José’s case, a co-worker went to the same cafeteria who was supposed to be the person who had not been quarantined and finally tested positive.
from here came a journey that in a country like Spain is unthinkable. José’s partner was isolated in a hotel and the rest of company staff had to stay in the office for 48 hours and they couldn’t go home if they didn’t have a negative test.
And the lockdown came
As of March, the exorbitant rise in cases forced Shanghai to be confined, first the lockdown was applied to one part of the city, then to the other part. However, this did not work and, to this day, citizens are not at all clear when they will be able to return to normality. “It is rumored that, by June, we will be able to return to the office”says José, who also recounts the day-to-day between measures that attract attention.
They cannot leave the house, nor walk the pets, nor take out the garbage nor, of course, go to work.. Making the individual purchase is impossible, says José, because the supermarkets do not give enough. The solution has come from necessity: the neighborhood communities organize themselves to order directly from wholesalers which, at least, suppose 1,000 euros of disbursement.
Groups have been created where there are people responsible for food, such as eggs, bread, cakes, fruit… José, last week, received 12 kilos of apples, and this is just an example. The same groups are formed to elect a person in charge who reports to the health authority when a positive is detected. Practically every day they leave an antigen test for José at his door, he must do it immediately and send the proof of his negative result to the group.
“It is no longer a health problem, it is a political problem”
José clearly expresses his opinion about the reality he is experiencing today in China. “Before the outbreak, Chinese citizens were satisfied with the policies that were being implemented, it was a national pride the way the situation was being handled,” he recalls, “comparisons came: look how the United States is or look how Europe is”that has changed.
“Now there are a lot of critical opinions, I’ve never seen that since I’ve lived here. They try to send videos on social networks telling what’s happening, but they’re censored,” explains José, who believes that the problem “is no longer sanitary, it’s politician”, the government, he believes, is not going to admit that it was wrong.
This man from Cordoba knows the official figures by heart, half a million infectionsthere has hardly been 238 deceased that they also had an average of 83 years. 95% of them, he says, were not vaccinated.
Field hospitals are set up in public spaces to care for positive patients, reserving, José understands, common hospitals for serious cases. Nevertheless, it is reaching extremes of not being able to care for patients with serious pathologies unrelated to the virus and who even have accidents because the ambulances are in charge of picking up the positives or doing tests.
“Before I came I knew I wasn’t going to grow up here, but I wasn’t in a hurry to leave”recalls José, who is now clear that his closest destination will not be in China.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.