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LIVING IN CHINA

12 Days of Lockdown in 12 Photos

Uncertainty and anxiety continue to rattle the daily lives of Shanghai residents as lockdown continues

I am writing this on April 12th, the 12th day since my district in Shanghai “locked down” to contain an outbreak of the omicron variant of Covid-19. I’m reminded of the “Twelve Day of Christmas” song, as if my current life is an advent calendar. But I don’t know what it’s counting up to.

By some measures, Shanghai is the world’s largest city. Its population is three times the size of New York City. Shanghai was heralded as a major international travel hub, a futuristic utopia of convenience, and within China, a model for pandemic management. In happier times, you could ride through tree-canopied streets on a share-bike, order deliveries to your home in 20 minutes, and hop on budget international flights for weekend trips. These days, I can’t buy an egg.

A lockdown comes with a lot of nuance. Implementation can vary widely. Earlier in March, my district was placed under a “48-hour lockdown” that was continuously extended, until it lasted for eight days. We weren’t allowed to exit our compounds except to take nucleic acid tests, but could order in deliveries.

Now, 12 days into the “four-day lockdown” announced to start in western Shanghai on April, 1, we’re not allowed to exit our apartment building outside of testing, and there are virtually no deliveries. Every morning, I catalog the vegetables in our fridge, and feel an unnerving sense of loss with every dash of oil or sprinkle of salt I use. Whatever we have, it doesn’t feel like enough.

Worries spawn like parasites, making themselves at home. If I’m taken to centralized quarantine, what will happen to my dogs? Something in my left wrist has begun clicking and popping incessantly; when can I see a doctor? New information and misinformation create a seesaw of confidence. Some compounds were released yesterday, only to be re-locked today. What is happening? When will this end?

We’re all in this together, but I feel overwhelmingly alone. My mind races through 1,000 possibilities, while my body alternates between the chair and sofa. My phone shames me with screen time notifications while spring passes by through an open window.

There is a positive case in my compound that hasn’t been logged in official reports for the past two days. Once it is entered, we expect to have an additional 14 days of lockdown. We’re not even halfway there.

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Nicoco Chan is the multimedia editor of TWOC.

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