Shanghai residents bristle as a lockdown enters a second week with more testing.

Residents are reaching “emotional tipping points” under the strict measures China has insisted on in handling the coronavirus, one commentator said.

This article is part of our Coronavirus Updates

En route to get tested for the coronavirus in a residential community under quarantine in Shanghai on Saturday.
Credit...Alex Plavevski/EPA, via Shutterstock

Residents have swarmed the police officers who enter their neighborhoods wearing white protective suits. They have shouted out their windows, demanding to be given supplies. Others have banged pots and pans in protest.

As a lockdown in Shanghai enters its second week, some residents are buckling under the strict measures ordered by the government to try to eliminate the coronavirus. It is a sign of the toll two years of zero-Covid policies have taken on the Chinese people.

“We’ve already cooperated with you for 10 days,” residents in one suburban district in Shanghai shouted at police officers, according to a video widely shared on Chinese social media. The name of the town, Gucun, which is in the city’s Baoshan district, was visible in the background.

“We just want to eat, is that so hard?” they yelled.

Shanghai, home to about 25 million people, has been under a citywide lockdown since early April because of a surge in Omicron coronavirus cases. On Saturday, the city recorded nearly 25,000 new cases. It is a sharp contrast to the approach in much of the world, where most nations have abandoned pandemic precautions and are hoping vaccination rates will limit the severity of future outbreaks.

To try and curb the spread, the central Chinese government has deployed tens of thousands of workers from other provinces and ordered Shanghai to erect makeshift hospitals, just like the early days of the pandemic, in Wuhan. But the stringent controls on movement have also led to reports of food shortages and denied medical care, stoking public discontent.

Shanghai officials have acknowledged logistical difficulties in delivering food to residents and have pledged to recruit more volunteers to help distribute packages. On Saturday, they announced that they would conduct another round of citywide testing, after which they would consider dividing neighborhoods into different risk levels, rather than implementing blanket controls over all of them.

Even some prominent nationalist commentators have acknowledged the toll of sustaining such harsh measures, especially as the rest of the world is moving toward living with the virus.

Hu Xijin, the retired editor of The Global Times, a state owned tabloid, wrote on social media on Saturday that he had seen the videos of protests in Shanghai and understood that residents without supplies had reached “emotional tipping points.”

“Being locked down is quite an extreme, temporary governance state, and our cities are not built for these circumstances,” he wrote. “During this time, it’s unlikely that the supply of materials will reach normal levels. We should talk about this, rather than only talking about the good things.”

Chinese officials have urged residents and social media users to focus on “positive energy” and vowed to crack down on “rumors” about public discontent or issues with epidemic management.

Austin Ramzy contributed reporting and Joy Dong contributed research.