In Shanghai, Leaving Home for Testing Means COVID Exposure

Going down to get tested is really the only time when you encounter other people," said Jackson Nemeth, who lives in one of Shanghai's locked down neighborhoods.To get more news about shanghai coronavirus cases, you can visit shine news official website.

When Nemeth, a 27-year-old American from Cleveland, Ohio, arrived in Shanghai last September to start a job in China's financial center, he never expected that the bustling city would become a ghost town almost overnight.

"Locked down since April 1. They told us originally that it will be a four-day lockdown. So, people got four days' worth of supplies, and since then until now, it's been exactly three weeks today," Nemeth told VOA Mandarin in a phone interview Thursday. "Pretty much every day they're finding positive (cases), which is just frustrating."

Nemeth, who has a master's degree in Chinese and a job connected to trade policy, lives in Shanghai's Jing'an district. Because authorities have been finding new COVID-19 cases each day, the neighborhood is now under complete lockdown.

On April 11, Shanghai sectors were categorized into three types of zones — lockdown zones, controlled zones and precautionary zones — based on their total positive cases, according to the state-controlled China Daily.

Some 11.88 million people live in lockdown zones, where residents must remain at home except in special circumstances such as a life-threatening illness.

Shanghai, with more than 25 million residents, is China's most populous city.For Nemeth, getting a nucleic acid COVID-19 test is his only opportunity to leave home. A nucleic acid test is a diagnostic test for the virus that causes COVID-19.

Dr. Amesh Adalja, a physician with Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security who focuses on emerging infectious disease, said that any social interaction is an opportunity for the virus to spread, and the omicron variant is highly contagious.

"There are likely a lot of unknown chains of transmission circulating throughout (Shanghai), and the draconian methods the Chinese government has forced on its population provides no incentive for cases to come forward, especially mild ones," Adalja told VOA Mandarin via email last week.

Adalja said Chinese authorities should be teaching the population harm reduction and risk tolerance, adding that they need to move away from "blunt authoritarian tools" that are not supported by science.

"The exit strategy is to vaccinate their high-risk population with mRNA vaccines, deploy home tests, antivirals, and monoclonal antibodies," Adalja said. The mRNA vaccines — which include the Pfizer and Moderna versions — teach a person's cells how to make a protein that will trigger an immune response inside their body, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and have proven to be effective against COVID-19.

Xinhua News Agency quoted Gao Chunfang, director of the Testing and Experiment Center of Yueyang Hospital, which is affiliated with the Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, as saying that high-frequency nucleic acid testing is "very necessary" because all pathogens have an incubation period, and if the viral load is relatively low, the initial test may fail.

China's zero-COVID policy, a countrywide COVID-19 control measure, has been in place since 2020. It has led to lockdowns in cities throughout the nation, but most notoriously in Shanghai. On March 28, China's financial hub imposed its first temporary lockdown, which blossomed into a widespread lockdown of indefinite length.