Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Tibet’s provincial capital Lhasa battles food shortage amid COVID-19 outbreak

A crippling food shortage triggered by a prolonged quarantine period has gripped Tibet’s provincial capital Lhasa, which is facing a serious COVID-19 outbreak, according to a media report on Friday. Widespread infections and food shortages have rocked the small city of Lhasa after more than a month of extreme COVID-19 measures.
Lhasa, the city of 860,000, has recorded more than 540 infections so far and food is running out for many families in the city as people have been either locked in their homes or sent to makeshift hospitals since the first cases were identified on August 8, Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post newspaper reported.
A Lhasa resident, who identified himself as Sam Wang, said he had been locked in his home for 36 days.
“It is extremely difficult to get food and many people have run out of food. I feel we are in the same situation as Ili [prefecture in Xinjiang],” the Post quoted Wang as saying.
The Ili city government apologised after acute shortages of food and essential items earlier this month prompted residents to take to social media to complain about it, triggering an online backlash.
Several Chinese cities including business hub Shanghai went through periodic lockdowns and stringent restrictions under China’s dynamic zero COVID policy resulting in production losses, disruption to supply chains and economic slowdown.“One of my neighbours’ one-month-old child was infected and had a fever. There was no ambulance and the couple went berserk in the (neighbourhood) WeChat group and finally, a volunteer managed to get the infant to the hospital,” wang said.
“The last time I managed to buy some food was half a month ago … but now I only have several potatoes and onions left and the rice we have can only last for a few days,” he said.
With no large e-commerce operator, Lhasa depends solely on community-level Communist Party cadres for its food supplies. They liaise with suppliers but most of the cadres in his community had been infected, Wang said.
Some of the online posts show pictures of overcrowded and shoddy makeshift hospitals, while in others buses are shown transporting large numbers of people to these facilities, the report said.
Local officials appear to be at breaking point, unable to separately quarantine positive cases and close contacts, or keep up with food supplies to them.
“It seems that people don’t know what to do, it is chaotic. The community-level police were infected, community-level cadres were infected, volunteers were infected and then the following batch of volunteers was also infected,” Wang was quoted as saying in the report.
The situation in Lhasa is similar to the worst days of Shanghai’s two-month lockdown when people were allegedly left to starve, he said.
“It has been three years since the pandemic and Shanghai has been locked down for two months. What happened to Shanghai is happening here and why aren’t there new ways to handle this virus?” he asked.


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