Inside Shanghai’s Zero Covid Camp
UnHerd gets the world's first tour of the 4,000-strong facility
The biggest city in China is in complete lockdown, with no end date in sight. Cases are rising and the 26 million residents of Shanghai are not permitted to leave their homes — not even to buy groceries or walk the dog. Footage has emerged of eerily deserted streets, but owing to the Chinese Communist Party’s control of the media, reliable information about what is really happening is hard to come by.
Now, for the first time, UnHerd can reveal the reality of life inside the vast mandatory quarantine facility in Shanghai, erected within the ‘Expo’ conference centre.
Like what you’re reading? Get the free UnHerd daily email
Already registered? Sign in
Jane Polubotko is a Ukrainian national who has lived in Shanghai for nine years, working as a marketing manager at a Chinese music technology company. On March 26th she felt slightly unwell, so went for a Covid test. The next day she was contacted to say that the results were “abnormal”, and suddenly an emergency health vehicle appeared at her block of flats to pick her up. She was shown no paperwork and she didn’t know where she was being taken.
For the past 11 days, Jane has been known as resident HI-17 118 at the central Shanghai Covid quarantine centre — one of 4,000 individuals held in a single vast room with no walls, without showers and without information as to when they will be released. Jane points out that, as well as there being no separation or ventilation, they are living at such close quarters that if they didn’t have Covid on arrival they very likely will catch it at the facility.
She has been tested five times, and has received the results of four: negative, positive, negative, negative. “Today we were told that apparently if you have four negative tests in a row you can be released from the hospital — but I still don’t know if we can really trust this information, so until I actually see people leaving I can’t believe it.” To date, she hasn’t seen anyone leave.
“Yesterday there was a list circulating with names of people who might be leaving today. But nobody left.”
Jane is unclear as to her legal status or rights, but she is clear that she can’t simply leave. “I am pretty sure there will be legal repercussions if I just walk out from this place. It’s not that easy because — although we can go outside sometimes when they let us out — there is a fence, so I would have to climb the fence and that would definitely attract a lot of people with their phones.”
The daily conditions are grim. “There are no showers. We have little water baskets that we can use to wash our faces, hands, arms and legs. They bought some towels, but it’s still hard — especially for girls.”
“The first day when I arrived, there were a lot of people complaining to the medical staff… And a few days ago, again people were complaining. That was already our 9th or 10th day, and people were really not satisfied with the fact that we are still here. Right now, I feel like people are getting more and more annoyed at staying here for such a long time.”
Despite all this, Jane remains strikingly upbeat. “It’s not nice for sure, especially not knowing what’s happening next. And not being able to have control over your body. But I’m trying to stay positive… I’m Ukrainian. Knowing what’s happening right now in my country means I can’t feel upset about my situation — because I know that what’s happening in Ukraine is way, way worse.”
Fascinating interview. I hope Jane doesn’t get into trouble with the authorities for showing the conditions inside the isolation camp.
I wonder how long it will be before ordinary Chinese people become fed up with these lockdowns? Is there any way ordinary Chinese can revolt and not end up being shot in the streets? I have almost no sense for the internal political dynamics of China. Perhaps Unherd could interview a knowledgeable Chinese journalist about whether the CCP is starting to feel pressure over its handling of zero covid.
It reminds me of those films which are quite numerous these days, in which a world similar to ours is portrayed, except distorted or dysfunctional. The inhabitants eventually outwit their captors, and escape to a free world, or end the regime.
However, I don’t think that will happen.
This is a dystopian nightmare. In addition young children are being separated from their parents.
Surely this is just a giant CCP scam in a pathetic attempt to exculpate themselves for manufacturing C-19 in the first place?
The old adage, “if you see their lips moving you know they are lying”, still holds true.
If I were feeling a little unwell in China, I would not go for a Covid test.
It’s not relative, it’s all very, very bad
Yet, despite the terror tactics used by the authorities, this is apparently the actual situation (according to TrialSiteNews, a medical publication) :
“Starting from a low of 137 COVID-19 daily new cases reported in China on February 19, 2022, the latest COVID-19 wave appears to have peaked in China on March 31, 2022 with 3,602 daily new cases, and has since declined to 1,405 daily new cases as of April 4, 2022: China COVID – Coronavirus Statistics – Worldometer. During that time period, two COVID-19 deaths were reported in China. By comparison, during the same approximate time period in the United States (February 20 to April 4, 2022), 47,106 COVID-19 deaths were reported: United States COVID – Coronavirus Statistics – Worldometer. Yet, Western media, scientists, public health authorities, and the public in general remain silent on the obvious discrepancy in COVID-19 deaths reported by China and other nations.”
Gosh! The Chinese are liars! Who would ever have thought that?
Thanks Freddie for always exposing what no one else is talking about!
Leave China, and never return.
It definitely couldn’t happen in a Western country. There would simply be a riot
Well, in fact there were not dissimilar camps in Australia!
To the eternal shame of Australia. What on earth happened to the Land of the Diggers?
Still mustn’t grumble; There is certain feeling of cosy schadenfreude here.
Well let’s be fair… the concentration camps in Aus were a tad more luxurious. Not much, but…
I can assure you that it can and will happen. People from your gen will happily go to camps as long as they’ll be allowed to connect to FB, Twitter, YT or other mirroring social networks
Lucky all of China is wearing masks duh
She seems like a nice person but let’s face it – only a “compliant” person goes to work for a corporation in China…I expect everyone in there is triple vaxx’d
Any update on the lockdown situation in Shanghai?
What about the Zero Covid Camp that we watched in the video?
Join the discussion
To join the discussion in the comments, become a paid subscriber.
Join like minded readers that support our journalism, read unlimited articles and enjoy other subscriber-only benefits.Subscribe