May 5, 202211:09 PM UTCLast Updated ago
By Brenda Goh
4 minute read
A resident looks outside through a barrier of a residential area during lockdown, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in Shanghai, China, May 3, 2022. REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo
SHANGHAI, May 6 (Reuters) – Veronica thought she did everything right by sticking to all of the COVID-19 lockdown rules in the Chinese city of Shanghai.
After the entire city was shut down on April 1, her family of four scrupulously followed government orders to stay at home, stepping out the front door only for mandatory PCR testing.
From Bohemia the light extended to Germany, for disturbances in the University of Prague caused the withdrawal of hundreds of German students. Many of them had received from Huss their first knowledge of the Bible, and on their return they spread the gospel in their fatherland.
Tidings of the work at Prague were carried to Rome, and Huss was soon summoned to appear before the pope. To obey would be to expose himself to certain death. The king and queen of Bohemia, the university, members of the nobility, and officers of the government united in an appeal to the pontiff that Huss be permitted to remain at Prague and to answer at Rome by deputy. Instead of granting this request, the pope proceeded to the trial and condemnation of Huss, and then declared the city of Prague to be under interdict.
In that age this sentence, whenever pronounced, created widespread alarm. The ceremonies by which it was accompanied were well adapted to strike terror to a people who looked upon the pope as the representative of God Himself, holding the keys of heaven and hell, and possessing power to invoke temporal as well as spiritual judgments. It was believed that the gates of heaven were closed against the region smitten with interdict; that until it should please the pope to remove the ban, the dead were shut out from the abodes of bliss. In token of this terrible calamity, all the services of religion were suspended. The churches were closed. Marriages were solemnized in the churchyard. The dead, denied burial in consecrated ground, were interred, without the rites of sepulture, in the ditches or the fields. Thus by measures which appealed to the imagination, Rome essayed to control the consciences of men.
Thou that art full of stirs, a tumultuous city, joyous city: thy slain men are not slain with the sword, nor dead in battle.
The city of Prague was filled with tumult. A large class denounced Huss as the cause of all their calamities and demanded that he be given up to the vengeance of Rome. To quiet the storm, the Reformer withdrew for a time to his native village. Writing to the friends whom he had left at Prague, he said: “If I have withdrawn from the midst of you, it is to follow the precept and example of Jesus Christ, in order not to give room to the ill-minded to draw on themselves eternal condemnation, and in order not to be to the pious a cause of affliction and persecution. I have retired also through an apprehension that impious priests might continue for a longer time to prohibit the preaching of the word of God amongst you; but I have not quitted you to deny the divine truth, for which, with God’s assistance, I am willing to die.”—Bonnechose, The Reformers Before the Reformation, vol. 1, p. 87. Huss did not cease his labors, but traveled through the surrounding country, preaching to eager crowds. Thus the measures to which the pope resorted to suppress the gospel were causing it to be the more widely extended. “We can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth.” 2 Corinthians 13:8. GC 100.2 – GC 101.2
When curbs were relaxed slightly in mid-April, letting residents walk about within their compounds, Veronica and her neighbours all wore masks.
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For weeks, their housing estate was free of COVID.
But in late April, after what Veronica thinks was her 12th PCR test, she, another member of her family, and a handful of neighbours tested positive.
“I have no idea how we caught it,” said Veronica, who declined to give her full name, citing privacy.
Her building was declared “sealed”. She, her family and the others who tested positive were sent into quarantine. Everyone else was ordered back indoors for another 14 days.
. I gathered up my writings, and we started on our journey. On the way we held two meetings in Orange and had evidence that the church was profited and encouraged. We were ourselves refreshed by the Spirit of the Lord. That night I dreamed that I was in Battle Creek looking out from the side glass at the door and saw a company marching up to the house, two and two. They looked stern and determined. I knew them well and turned to open the parlor door to receive them, but thought I would look again. The scene was changed. The company now presented the appearance of a Catholic procession. One bore in his hand a cross, another a reed. And as they approached, the one carrying a reed made a circle around the house, saying three times: “This house is proscribed. The goods must be confiscated. They have spoken against our holy order.” Terror seized me, and I ran through the house, out of the north door, and found myself in the midst of a company, some of whom I knew, but I dared not speak a word to them for fear of being betrayed. I tried to seek a retired spot where I might weep and pray without meeting eager, inquisitive eyes wherever I turned. I repeated frequently: “If I could only understand this! If they will tell me what I have said or what I have done!”
I wept and prayed much as I saw our goods confiscated. I tried to read sympathy or pity for me in the looks of those around me, and marked the countenances of several whom I thought would speak to me and comfort me if they did not fear that they would be observed by others. I made one attempt to escape from the crowd, but seeing that I was watched, I concealed my intentions. I commenced weeping aloud, and saying: “If they would only tell me what I have done or what I have said!” My husband, who was sleeping in a bed in the same room, heard me weeping aloud and awoke me. My pillow was wet with tears, and a sad depression of spirits was upon me. 1T 577.2 – 1T 578.1
“I followed all the rules,” Veronica said from a quarantine centre where she and her family are confined with hundreds of people in a vast hall.
Veronica is among thousands who have caught COVID in compounds that had been free of the coronavirus and sealed off for weeks.
The cases underscore how difficult it is to stop the spread of the highly transmissible Omicron variant as China clings to its zero-COVID policy, perpetuating a cycle of lockdowns, as well as bafflement, anguish and anger.
Between April 21 and May 2, residents at 4,836 different addresses found themselves in a similar situation, with infections cropping up after weeks in the clear, according to a Reuters examination of Shanghai government data.
On April 30 alone, 471 addresses were recorded as having found at least one case, after registering none at all in the previous 29 days. The number of residents at a given address varied from a handful to hundreds.
Shanghai’s lockdown measures have been extremely strict, especially during the first two weeks of April, with residents allowed out of compounds only for exceptional reasons, such as a medical emergency. Many are not even allowed out of their front doors to mingle with neighbours.
Shanghai’s daily case numbers have come down for six straight days but the thousands of new ones still being found every day drive speculation about how COVID is spreading, debate over the wisdom of the “zero-COVID” policy and fear of infection.
Searching for answers, many residents point to queuing for the all-to frequent PCR tests, or deliveries of food and other items, which all rely on volunteers, property management staff and couriers.
Some people have even begun to refuse PCR tests, bringing penalties for failure to comply.(Yea, truth faileth; and he that departeth from evil maketh himself a prey: and the LORD saw it, and it displeased him that there was no judgment.Isaiah:59:15)
The Shanghai government, asked for comment, referred to remarks on April 14 by city health official Wu Huanyu, who said that infection through the distribution of supplies could not be ruled out, among other possibilities.
Health experts say the relentless spread points to China’s difficulty in sticking to its zero-COVID goal.
“Their zero COVID policy works to a point but then they will keep getting hit hard, especially when they haven’t used that time to get high coverage of their most vulnerable population,” said Paul Hunter, professor of medicine at the University of East Anglia, referring to China’s relatively low rates of vaccination compared with other places.
Jaya Dantas, a public health expert at the Curtin School of Population Health in Australia, said China’s approach had come with high costs, and to stamp out transmission completely would take months.
“They have been effective but really harsh with constant testing which is resource, labour and financially intensive. The mental health impacts on the population are also significant,” she said.
Lockdowns in Shanghai and dozens of other cities have triggered rare public shows of discontent, especially as the persistent emergence of a relatively few infections prolongs the confinement of millions of others.
Each new case has multiple consequences: the COVID positive person and their close contacts must go into quarantine. All neighbours in their building must isolate for 14 days, with the clock resetting every time a new case is found.
Veronica says she has been scarred by the experience.
“Don’t leave your apartment, but I don’t even know if that helps anymore,” she said.
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Reporting by Brenda Goh; Additional reporting by Natalie Grover in London Editing by Tony Munroe, Robert Birsel
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