Shanghai Lockdown (Puxi) Day 1: Deja Vu

Sense of deja vu but with an odd combination of both more clarity yet more confusion. The locals have a better understanding for this iteration of lockdown (vs. our experience in Feb 2020), yet the management thereof is coming across as far more fragmented and uncertain.

To help bring you up to speed: Omicrom BA.2 arrived in March and got loose into the Shanghai population due to a breakdown in process/procedure at a 14 day quarantine hotel for international arrivals (source:

It quickly spread through the population which prompted authorities to employ a variety of measures to bring it under control, all of which ultimately failed. Which brings us to today.

The city has gone into a 2 stage lockdown, first PuDong (East of the HuangPu River) then PuXi (West of the HuangPu River). Announcement of PuDong’s lockdown came shortly before it was enacted, forcing residents to scurry to build food stores while PuXi was given a few days extra to stock up.

During the lockdown all residents in the area are to be PCR tested twice. Those testing positive would be picked up, assessed, and then placed either in hospital (for serious symptoms) or centralized mass quarantine facilities (for mild/asymptomatic). Exit from either facility would require recovery with two negative PCR tests within a day, after which a self quarantine at home or at a quarantine hotel would follow.

Our particular building was already in lockdown, first 48 hour for a resident being a close contact, followed by extended lockdown due to a case being found (it would appear 4 so far have been detected and taken away). We have already been through multiple rounds of PCR and antigen before the PuXi lockdown.

Complicating matters for our building has been the sudden departure of the building manager, leaving local residents to have to step in during the lockdown to ensure everything is organized for testing. In this instance the response has been impressive, every floor was quickly set up with a floor leader and WeChat group coupled with a leader and group for the building as a whole. Conversations have been upbeat and focused on ensuring everyone stays safe and that floor needs are met (including cases where residents would drop off food or necessities outside the door of those that were unable to source in the buying frenzy days prior).

At home – food wise everything is good. The employer arranged for a vegetable and meat care package to be delivered to all staff ahead of the lockdown. This really highlighted the difference in cultural practices with respect to food. In the West shopping is often done on a bi-weekly or monthly basis with runs to CostCo and the like to then fill chest freezers and pantries with bulk frozen and canned goods.

Here the desire is for fresh, especially vegetables, with rice (maybe beans) as the core non-perishable. This means purchases are made multiple times per week.

In addition, the frantic pace of Shanghai life coupled with a literal army of electric scooter equipped delivery drivers and multiple food delivery apps means more often than not takeout makes for many a meal (not to mention the endless choices of dine in).

So for the next few days things should be fine for the city, but if the lockdown persists – there will be a challenge if the food logistics network cannot be quickly reestablished.

As for the furball – he has been chilling at a cat hotel outside the city for the last couple weeks (to avoid the chaos). In videos shared, he likes to visit outside the rooms of his hotel mates to check up on them when he is given run of the common area for exercise each day. A bao an (security guard) all his own. Maybe by the end of this experience he will be yelling at everyone demanding to see health QR codes?

A change in ambient city noise – bird song over traffic, punctuated with the occasional siren of a passing ambulance on its way to collect another positive. The city outside is a ghost town. Deja vu.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s