Residents of an apartment complex in Guiyang are asking for help on Chinese social networks, they ran out of food and the authorities are slow to respond.

Earlier this week, the local government arranged for some residential areas in Guiyang to be locked down. Three hundred and twenty people tested positive, although new tests are required to verify the contagions. On September 8, authorities confirmed 74 new infections. According to the information provided by the government, the outbreak started in a fresh food market in the area.

Several Chinese provinces have strict lockdown areas with the order to “stay at home.” The city of Chengdu in Sichuan province, a mega-city of more than 21 million people, is under the communist regime’s zero COVID policy measures due to the outbreak of 157 new infections on August 31. The measures include mass testing, orders not to leave the house after 6pm, and only one person per household is authorized to go out to do daily shopping for food and supplies.

According to official information, the measures were to be relaxed as of September 4, but authorities extended the lockdown until September 8.

The repeated restrictions disrupt the daily lives of the Chinese. One Chengdu resident, Kya Zhang, a 28-year-old engineer, told CNBC, “I am waiting in a very long queue to get into the grocery store near my house.”

Guiyang’s plea for help goes viral online

Several residents of Guiyang’s Huaguoyuan community, home to 500,000 people, said they were running out of food days after buildings were closed on September 3, according to postings on social media. Some were even on the verge of despair and were begging for food from their neighbors.

“An elderly resident in Huaguoyuan Area 1 hasn’t eaten anything for three days,” said a screenshot from messaging app WeChat posted on Weibo. “Please spread the word or send some food.”

Michelle Chen, a coffee shop employee who lives in Huaguoyuan, told SCMP that several apartments in the complex have no kitchen to prepare food, are rented by young people who always order food delivery and have no food stocks at home. 

Chen related that she was eating food reserves she had for a few days, mostly potatoes, but then she ran out. She said, “I bought a bag of rice online, but the vegetables ran out quickly,” And she added, “This morning they announced that there will be more food deliveries, but I’m still waiting.”

A Weibo user surnamed Lin commented in a local media report, “This is surreal. We live in 2022, yet there are people starving in provincial capitals like Guiyang.”

The outrage of Guiyang residents via social media caught the attention of local authorities. Apparently, there were delays in the food home delivery system.

The Guiyang government apologized in a public letter and at a press conference held on September 8 reported that due to the COVID-19 measures, there are fewer workers to carry out food deliveries. Du Min, deputy mayor of Nanming district said, “We will better coordinate resources, make sure food and necessities reach the area, allow inter-district deliveries and resort to group purchasing.”  

In the public letter to the apartment complex on September 7, district authorities apologized for “causing inconvenience.” The letter said, “Due to inexperience and improper methods, some residents were still waiting late at night to get tested and some areas lacked food supplies. We feel guilty and for that we apologize.”

One woman said that, due to mismanagement and long waits for testing, her building used to test at 2 a.m. Other residents in her building complained about not having food and other supplies, yet neighbors tried to help each other.

Since the authorities issued the apology letter, food deliveries resumed, however it is still not enough.

Zhu Min, a 22-year-old Huaguoyuan resident, said that after almost a week, her apartment finally received cabbage that had to be divided among six families. It was the first time since the lockdown that she had tasted something other than noodles, cookies, or eggs, she said.

Huaguoyuan is known for being one of China’s largest urbanization projects. The two skyscrapers completed in 2018, are over 1,100 feet tall and are among the tallest buildings in the country. The complex has become Guiyang’s main tourist attraction, with a 6-story shopping mall inside.

1,000 cases per day

On September 8, the Chinese Communist Party reported 1,292 new cases of COVID. During the month of August, on average 1,000 new cases were reported each day. At a press conference, China’s National Health Commission official Wu Liangyou said that each region should conduct PCR testing regularly, regardless of whether they have outbreaks or not.

In addition, Wu noted that restrictions and requirements for tourism in the affected regions remain in place. Travelers must submit negative COVID tests 48 hours before traveling by air or high-speed rail, as well as for reservations at hotels or tourist attractions.

Beijing is on high alert and is banning the arrival of people coming from infected areas.

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