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NYU professor says his family turned into ‘hunter gatherers’ during Shanghai’s COVID lockdown – Insider

  • An NYU professor says his family is turning into “hunter gatherers” amid Shanghai’s total lockdown.
  • Rodrigo Zeidan said his family banded together with their estate’s community to secure food.
  • He called the city’s lockdown — and the family having to find ways to survive — an “interesting sociological experience.”

An NYU professor living in Shanghai said that his family is turning into “hunter-gatherers” while attempting to survive the city’s COVID-19 total lockdown without starving. 

“Access (to food) is the problem. In a way, we’ve turned into hunter-gatherers,” NYU-Shanghai professor Rodrigo Zeidan said in an April 11 interview with The Hill. “We had to find ways to manage how to get food — and we don’t speak Chinese.”

He added that his family managed to secure food by banding together with some people from their estate’s community to “go and buy as much as possible of whatever we could get our hands on” and barter with neighbors to get more items that they needed.

“It’s an interesting sociological experience, coming to a city where it’s not our home country and trying to survive in a very flexible way,” said Zeidan. 

Zeidan told The Hill that the prolonged lockdown took him and many Shanghai residents by surprise. 

“Life went on, as normal as it could be, under those circumstances, then everything changed,” he said. “We didn’t have time to prepare and the four days turned into five, to six, and then seven. And that’s the situation we are in right now.”

He said the Western view that Chinese citizens did not protest was wrong and said there was immense frustration on the ground.  

“This is how people voice their concerns in China. They do not protest against the central government, of course, but it’s the way that you keep local politicians in check,” he said, referring to videos he saw of Shanghai’s people arguing with healthcare workers that were uploaded on Chinese social media, then censored.

“The protests that you are seeing, these are part and parcel of the way that the Chinese people go about getting some accountability into their political system — as much as they can, given that this is not a democracy,” Zeidan said. 

Shanghai went into a total lockdown on April 5 to suppress rising COVID-19 numbers, per its COVID-zero policy. Since the lockdown began, however, the city has seen discontent brewing amongst its 26 million residents.

Videos have emerged of unattended infants left crying in quarantine centers after being forcibly separated from their parents, a policy the city’s government has defended. And shocking videos have also been posted on social media that appear to be of Shanghainese residents screaming out of their windows as the lockdown wears on.

Shanghai recorded 22,342 COVID-19 infections on Tuesday, which brings the city’s total infection count to around 227,000 since March 1.