One minute you’re happily browsing unpronounceable bookcases, the next you’re fleeing for your freedom. That was the scene at an Ikea store in Shanghai on Saturday when health officials ordered the site into lockdown after a COVID close contact was traced to the store.
Videos shared on social media show what appears to be an inversion of Black Friday sales, with shoppers pushing past one another in a bid to get out of the outlet before the doors were locked shut. Some clips showed security workers attempting to contain the mayhem by keeping doors closed as crowds of panicked shoppers pushed through from the other side. After months of lockdowns in Shanghai in pursuit of China’s strident “zero-COVID” pandemic policy, it appears the locals didn’t want to face an indeterminate time contained in the store with only tiny pencils and meatballs to survive.
Authorities said “temporary control measures” were ordered at the Ikea branch after it was discovered that a close contact of a 6-year-old boy with an asymptomatic COVID case had been there, though it wasn’t clear when the contact had occurred. In a press briefing Sunday, Shanghai Health Commission Deputy Director Zhao Dandan said the “store and affected area” would go into a “closed loop” of management for two days, and that everyone inside the loop would undergo 48 hours of quarantine and five days of health monitoring.
City health authorities Monday said six locally transmitted cases of COVID were detected in Shanghai. Of those six, five were asymptomatic.
In the spring of this year, Shanghai’s 25 million residents were plunged into lockdown for two months, triggering a huge public outcry when locals struggled to obtain essential items like food and medication. Unable to leave their apartments for any reason, people were filmed screaming from their windows saying they had run out of food and were unable to order more. Those who tested positive during the lockdown were forcibly taken to COVID hospitals, while those still in their homes were ordered to comply with restrictions by drones flown to patrol residential areas. “Control your soul’s desire for freedom,” the dystopian drones’ message declared. “Do not open the window or sing.” When the lockdown finally lifted, a new round of panic-buying began in June after Shanghai workers began erecting fences to seal off residential districts after just 11 cases were found outside quarantine centers.
Draconian snap lockdowns are still occurring across China when new outbreaks are detected. Some 80,000 tourists were left stuck on a resort island in Hainan last week after health authorities shut down all entry and exit from the area after cases of COVID were detected.
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