COVID in Shanghai: January 2021 Update

For most of 2020, it felt like COVID was slowly disappearing in Shanghai, even as the pandemic raged in the US and some other places. The cases that popped up in China (that we know about) all felt pretty distant. In January 2021, though, we experienced a small resurgence in COVID cases, first in other parts of China, and then in Shanghai itself.

The government response was swift and decisive. You can look it up online if you’re interested. Not a whole lot of information was publicly disclosed, aside from “we’re handling it,” so rumors were swirling.

I actually know someone who was affected by the recent cases (he had third degree contact), announced on January 24th, and then within a day I saw this image in a WeChat group (no, it wasn’t censored or deleted):

WeChat COVID Quarantine Message

This message was not sent by my friend, but it described the exact same situation: son’s teacher’s son’s piano teacher got COVID. They were doubtlessly both students at the same international school in Shanghai. The kids had the third-degree exposure, not the dads, but the kids were too young to do quarantine alone, so the dads had to join in on the fun.

My friend (and his son) are set to be released from government quarantine (in a decent hotel) tomorrow, after 4 nasal tests and 3 blood tests (as of yesterday).

For us luckier residents of Shanghai, face masks are required on public transportation and in government buildings and hospitals just like the were through the end of 2020, but now requirements have stepped up. More buildings are taking temperatures at the entrances and/or requiring face masks for entry. (Pretty much all malls are). My office building is requiring everyone to show their “health code” upon entry (it must be green).

Many Chinese living in Shanghai that were originally planning to go back to their hometowns for Chinese New Year (Feb. 12, 2021) no longer are. It goes without saying that routine CNY holiday trips outside of China are all off this year.

Everyone’s hoping that as the weather warms and. the vaccine continues to be distributed, things will get better by the summer. We shall see!

(One year later, still unfortunately) Related: COVID Vocabulary in Chinese


John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.

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