Life in Shanghai during the pandemic – From a Japanese point of view (part 1)

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This is Hideki Miyazaki of Netmarks Shanghai.
Netmarks Shanghai has been providing IT infrastructure services mainly for the Japan originated companies that are also doing businesses in China. Many of our customers are already doing business with UNIADEX, Ltd., so we also strive to offer the same Japanese quality services here in China.

This article is the 1st part of 2 articles about how the life is here before the lockdown in China.
The information written here is as of April 19, 2022. For the latest information, please refer to the appropriate website including Japan consolate website in China.

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When I first came to the office in Shanghai in August 2021, the number of people infected with COVID-19 was much smaller than of Japan's. So, we thought back then that COVID-19 was something of the past already. Our behaviors are being monitored by using health-check 2D barcode on our personal smartphone to enter places such as the department stores. The behaviors of the people infected are of course being monitored fully to prevent the spread of the disease.
However, in April of 2022, the number of newly infected people increased to over 20,000 just in Shanghai itself. I never dreamed then that we would go into a lockdown which extended over to a full month. The Chinese government does not use the word "lockdown" (full closure of the city). Instead, they call it "static management" meaning they have the full control of the infection.
In March of 2022, the number of community infection increased from almost none to a noticeable number. The media started talking about it more & the shops and households around my office/apartment started being locked down. The number of people using the metro has decreased drastically. To my fear, the gate which connects my apartment and the public street got locked up & I was no longer able to go outside. (I was in a confinement status in a true sense)

Ice cream shop close to my office - the entrance is taped close
The paper attached promotes wearing mask, checking temperature and using the 2D code of the health application.
Very few passengers are seen. (West Nanjing Road Station)
Apartment entrance locked with a chain near my office

For disease prevention purpose, our Netmarks Shanghai office has also decided for some the employees to work from home starting March 16th
At the same time, PCR tests started per living quarter basis. Everyone living in my apartment got called in and went to the temporary PCR testing site. The PCR test I got in Japan used a cotton swap which went deep into my throat and made me cry. But, in China, only a light scrab around my throat was all needed. I actually got worried if the result will be accurate. I had to present my 2D barcode of the application having my personal information to take the test. The result was also shown on the application.

Screenshot of the application showing the PCR test result
Temporary PCR test site near my apartment

Shanghai Municipal Government decided to have a lockdown for 96 hours from 3/28 to 4/1 for the east side of Huangpu River and from 4/1 to 4/5 for the west side of the river which runs in a middle of Shanghai city.
During that time, public transportations had stopped, and businesses were mandated to have their employees work from home.
The amount of impact the lockdown had is immeasurable for a city with over 2.5 million people. On top of that the lockdown was only announce just few hours before the start on 3/27 midnight.
It's hard to say whether such fast response was good or bad. But one thing for sure is that the government was quick to make an action against COVID-19.
The area I lived in was in the west side of Huangpu River, so my lockdown started from 4/1. I was very lucky to have this few days before the start. Once the lockdown was announced, everybody thought of a same thing. Yes, buying food. I did actually start to secure some food in advance since there were some rumors going around. But by the time I got to the nearby supermarket, there were nothing left of the shelf of the instant food and dry noodles. The shelf for frozen food was empty as well.

All noodles were sold out (shelf of a supermarket near my apartment)
Nothing left on the shelf (shelf of a supermarket near my apartment)

In the evening of 3/29 before the lockdown, I went to a small shop where I found very little meat and vegetables. The receipt says the items were specially discounted; however, it cost 24.8 Yuan just for 3 tomatoes and 2 onions. The fresh eggs cost as much as 25 Yuan for a pack of 6. Yet, the small shop was packed with shoppers. I don't know if the supply had stopped, but the vegetable shop next to this shop was pretty much empty.

Specially discounted 2 tomatoes and 3 onions were 24.8 Yuan, 6 eggs 25 Yuan, spaghetti and tomato sauce costed a total of 75.6 Yuan. (About 1,500 JPY at the rate in May 2022)
Empty store front shelves of the vegetable shop

I hurried back home and started making some food. I cooked short pasta and tomatoes in a pan & Japanese style rice and mushroom mix. I froze those food to eat for lunch and dinner. I will be eating cereals for breakfast. I thought [the lockdown is for 5 days, so these should be enough].

Homemade frozen tomato pasta
Homemade frozen rice mix

I wanted to buy the milk right before the lockdown on 3/30 to keep it as fresh as possible, but all the stores in town were closed by then. I realized how naïve I was & felt the rain was much colder. On the midnight of 4/1, the lockdown finally started.

Night before the lockdown with nobody being around
Lonely red light on the night before the lockdown
The rain felt much colder on the night before the lockdown

<to be continued to Part 2>
Extra addition: I went to the [Spring Garden of Qinkey] my colleague told me about before the lockdown on 3/27. The park is famous for the cherry blossoms and tulips. Although the flower had past the full bloom, I fully enjoyed.

Sweet weekend before the lockdown (Spring Garden of Qinkey)
Tulips garden - Sweet weekend before the lockdown (Spring Garden of Qinkey)

SHCAT (Shanghai Children's Art Theater) opened next to the Shanghai Garden of Qinkey last year

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Netmarks Shanghai can support your company build a remote work environment (BCP) using VPN, remote desktop, asset management, endpoint security, cloud deployment and such. If a BCP measure is ever needed, we will be happy to be on your side. Contact us here.

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Has an experience of managing an open style call center and the engineers in Japan. The tasks at Netmarks Shanghai are to manage the engineering quality, develop new clients, and to discover new business commodities. Eating and walking are my favorite activities. I stroll around my apartment on the weekends & even travel some distance to discover popular places in Shanghai.