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A Shanghai resident shares her views on the city's lockdown


China continues to pursue a zero-COVID strategy. As a result, the 26 million citizens of its most populous city are subject to various degrees of lockdown as the country experiences a surge of the coronavirus. Shanghai has been in lockdown for nearly five weeks now.

One among those millions is Ming. She asked that we only use her first name for her own safety. She works as a nanny in Shanghai in a fairly well-to-do area. And when we spoke earlier, I wanted to know how she was faring this many weeks in.

MING: Yearning for freedom - I really wanted to go out. For a lot of people, they are feeling the same. Like, people keep asking, when is this going to be finished? But for the past few weeks, the new cases are around, like, 15- to 20,000 each day. So I don't know. Anyway, it feels like it's going to last for another, maybe a month or two months.

SCHMITZ: And there are so many people, including me, who have been fully vaccinated and boosted and have still gotten COVID because of this new variant, because of omicron and how contagious it is. Because it's so contagious, do you think that the zero-COVID policy is a smart one?

MING: It's hard for me to say. So I kind of, like, agree on both sides. Like, on one side, people say, like, we should go, like, Europe or American. But on the other side, people are saying, like, you cannot take this risk because we have a lot of old people or kids. I'm kind of on the both sides because I have my grandparents, which are old, and I have little kids within my family. I don't want to take the risk of losing my family.

But also, I feel like because of, as you said, how contagious this virus is, it sounds really difficult. Like, right now in Shanghai, it's kind of, like, out of control. And also there are, like, other cities in China which are going through, like - I don't know, they are having this virus spreading, also. So I really don't know.

SCHMITZ: Yeah. I'd love to know from your perspective - I mean, you're in Pudong, and you live in a house, so it's probably quieter where you are - but what's the outdoor life like? Are people out and about? Are people visibly angry about this? What are other people saying about this situation at this point in time?

MING: So in where I'm living, I think it's pretty peaceful because our situation is much better than, I think, most of the people because here in this neighborhood, people are rich, so they don't have to worry about food. I think they have their own ways to figure out about that. And also, we don't - like, for us, we didn't really get, like, really locked at a small space for a long time. You can still walk in the neighborhood.


MING: So I think because of that, in my neighborhood, people are mostly, like, more peaceful. But as far as I know, I think there were - in one of the building where my friend was leaving - my friend is living, they had protested about food for - in the very beginning because they don't have food. And at that point, government didn't start to give food to people. And they had, like, the whole building screaming, like, we need food. But it didn't go on news. It's like - I mean, it didn't go on news. But after that, they got, like, several times of food from the government.

SCHMITZ: Thank you so much for talking to us. We've been speaking with Ming, a nanny who lives in Shanghai. Thank you very much.

MING: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF TYCHO'S "DAYDREAM") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Rob Schmitz is NPR's international correspondent based in Berlin, where he covers the human stories of a vast region reckoning with its past while it tries to guide the world toward a brighter future. From his base in the heart of Europe, Schmitz has covered Germany's levelheaded management of the COVID-19 pandemic, the rise of right-wing nationalist politics in Poland and creeping Chinese government influence inside the Czech Republic.
Ashish Valentine joined NPR as its second-ever Reflect America fellow and is now a production assistant at All Things Considered. As well as producing the daily show and sometimes reporting stories himself, his job is to help the network's coverage better represent the perspectives of marginalized communities.
Justine Kenin