‘Sorry, but that mincemeat is for the elderly lady,’ says the butcher. His small, exclusive shop in central Beijing usually sells its foie gras mainly to foreigners, but now it is packed with Chinese customers. “Put forty sausages in bags of five,” says a tall woman in stylish black. She also has six large disks of veal shank vacuum-packed for the freezer.
Beijing announced on Sunday that everyone in the luxurious Chaoyang district would be tested three times for corona. The disease has been undetected among the population for a week, according to the government, which makes the situation “grim and urgent”, according to the city government.
There are outbreaks among school and college students, among elderly travel groups and among handymen. Many people see the massive tests as a harbinger of a lockdown, because that’s how it went in other cities. They panic and panic.
Like many other shops, the butcher no longer takes orders via delivery services on Mondays: only people who physically come to his business still have a chance to make a purchase. Yet he has no shortcomings. “I’ve got plenty of meat, but I just don’t have the time to cut it,” he says, as he desperately chops a lamb’s ribcage into chops.
Many people are mainly afraid that they will no longer be able to leave their home to actually buy that meat. See Shanghai, where almost the entire population has been imprisoned for almost four weeks. The internet is flooded with stories about elderly people in particular who cannot get enough food or medical care. Civil servants also no longer know how to provide assistance to citizens, because they also no longer receive an answer from the overburdened and poorly cooperating authorities.
For a few days now, according to videos and photos, in Shanghai, green fences of two meters high for the exit of residential complexes posted. They seem to be meant to keep people from breaking their quarantine. It’s a form of what on social media ‘hard isolation’‘ has come to be called. No one can just go outside anymore because he or she is hungry or has to see a doctor, or because he or she is completely mad from the isolation and being inside.
Burning apartment building
It leads to much outrage; Shanghai residents fear being charred alive if a fire breaks out somewhere. A video of a burning apartment building that is said to have been made in the east of the city had already circulated. You could hear the people screaming in fear. According to Tang Xiaotian, a professor at the University of Political Science and Law in Shanghai, such measures may be illegal. His warning was widely acclaimed on social media.
There are stories of solidarity, but also of betrayal. A woman anonymously told this newspaper that her infected father was standing in front of the open window of their apartment without a mask on. Another resident thought that was outrageous and reported her father to the neighborhood committee. A warning followed.
Read also this article about the lockdown in Shanghai
Incidentally, the situation in Shanghai is much more serious than that in Beijing. As of March 28, when the eastern part of Shanghai went into lockdown, there were already 14,660 active cases in Shanghai. Thereafter the board pursued an initially slow and later unpredictable policy which aggravated the suffering of the population.
There were only 108 active infections in Beijing as of Tuesday. The city wants to nip the outbreak in the capital right away. There are already limited lockdowns in some parts of the city. The fear is that these will be expanded quickly if the mass testing now reveals more cases. Such a lockdown always comes suddenly. Then you better have some extra sausages in the freezer – if you can afford it.