Fresh off the boat, fish from Xiamen are tested for Covid-19

After the pre-lockdown chaos, some calm has been restored to Chengdu city. But despite the relief from well-stocked supermarket shelves, Chengdu-based social media users are also expressing frustration over long Covid test lines and broken systems.

Ohat a difference a day makes. After scenes of panic buying and worries about an upcoming lockdown dominated discussions among Chengdu-based social media users on Thursday, many expressed relief on Friday to find some calm after the storm and plenty of groceries in city supermarkets.

Following a spike in COVID-19 cases, Chengdu authorities announced on Thursday that the city would implement a semi-lockdown starting at 6 p.m., meaning people should stay at home and take part in the campaign to mass testing until September 4.

Unlike a strict lockdown, one member of each household is allowed to leave the house once a day for a two-hour period to shop for groceries and essentials.

This was initially also the case in Xi’an during its late 2021/early 2022 lockdown, but the lockdown then became stricter, after which many residents faced food shortages.

Although Chengdu authorities told people not to “stock up blindly”, many people still rushed to the markets, and some bought heaps of meat and carts full of vegetables.

Thursday’s scenes of crowded shopping streets and supermarket chaos recalled previous moments of Covid-era panic buying in China, including those of Shanghai and Tianjin.

But after people left their homes within the allowed two-hour deadline on Friday, many were relieved to find markets were open with well-stocked shelves and deliveries were not cancelled.

Exit card: 1 person per household, once a day for a maximum of 2 hours.

“Last night I was so nervous and rushed to stock up on food, only to find out today – after being given a card to walk out of doors – that there was so much fresh produce in the grocery store Qiandama and Manpeng Food Market! Same as Hema Supermarket! People in Chengdu really don’t have to worry about going hungry during lockdown, just worry about how to eat all that tasty food” , wrote Weibo user @kkyoon_lim.

The Weibo user points out that supermarkets are fully stocked and panic buying was unnecessary.

“It was me who went out today for two hours of fresh air on behalf of my family,” another Chengdu-based netizen wrote, “There weren’t many people and pharmacies and supermarkets were open. Express delivery couriers also came to deliver. I was afraid they weren’t. Grocery prices were also regular. So I’m glad I didn’t participate in the panic buying yesterday.

Another Chengdu resident wrote, “I went out to buy groceries today. There were very few people outside and it was so quiet. To be honest, I thought it was pretty cool actually.

Despite some relief, frustrations also continue to build, especially around the mass testing process. Some nucleic acid test points saw systems go down on Thursday and not everything seemed to go smoothly on Friday either. For the second day in a row, the hashtag “Chengdu Nucleic Acid System Down” (#成都核酸系统崩了#) trended on Weibo.

“Fixed-point nucleic acid testing is really a joke,” wrote one angry commenter: “There are several test points across the city and each one is more crowded than a supermarket when shopping for After waiting in line for a few hours they tell us the system is down and we lost another few hours.

“I’ve been waiting for three hours already, I’m going crazy, what kind of system is it?” another Chengdu-based social media user complained.

“Chengdu’s Covid testing system is just ridiculous, it breaks down every day, and the more it breaks down, the longer we are exposed to a crowded environment where we could catch the virus,” one poster wrote.

Despite the struggles, there were also people who enjoyed the quiet night scenes in the city of 21 million.

Photo by @幸福的JioJio加油.

On Weibo, Internet users wished each other a good night after this first day full of semi-confinement. One person wrote: “Chengdu, we are doing very well, good night everyone!”

By Manya Koetse

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