China's COVID policy under strain as Omicron spreads

STORY: Food deliveries are being passed over barriers and under gates to some Shanghai residents, who are currently locked down in residential compounds.

In a bid to help stem rising COVID-19 infections, but prevent a widespread, city-wide lockdown, the local government is placing restrictions on these compounds, where suspected or detected cases have been found.

Around the mega-city of around 25 million, people have also been queuing for COVID-19 tests after 10 cases were reported on Tuesday (March 15).

Although case numbers are few by global standards, Shanghai, alongside the rest of the country, is battling its worst flare-up of infections since the virus emerged in Wuhan in 2020.

Despite this, residents like Eric Cui are optimistic.

"It's hard to describe the current state with one word. On the surface, it looks very tight for everyone. In fact, people are not very nervous. We have been received nucleic acid tests and everything in an orderly manner."

In the past 10 weeks, China has reported at least 14,000 new local symptomatic cases - more than in all of 2021.

The wave is being driven by the Omicron variant and is fuelling fears from experts that China’s strict zero-COVID policy is no longer sustainable.

As parts of the country are struggling to contain cases and are scrambling to test populations and quarantine the infected.

In the northeastern province of Jilin - which borders North Korea and is the hardest-hit region in the current outbreak - affected cities are racing to prepare temporary hospitals.

The province’s 24 million residents are also banned from leaving without notifying the local police.

Although China has a vaccination rate of nearly 90%, experts believe not enough of the elderly have received boosters.

It is also unclear how well Chinese vaccines reduce the risk of developing the disease caused by Omicron.