ChinaIndiaSupply ChainsCybersecurityUkraine Invasion

Locked-down Shanghai residents are getting sick after eating government-issued emergency food supplies

April 25, 2022, 5:43 PM UTC

Shanghai’s 25 million residents have endured an extreme COVID lockdown for nearly a month—and now a new nightmarish topic is trending on Weibo, the country’s Twitter-like social media platform.

After consuming food from government-issued care packages, a number of residents living in housing compounds across several Shanghai neighborhoods have reported suffering from stomach pains and diarrhea, according to reporting from Bloomberg News.

The care packages, which included meals like braised duck and meatballs, were sent to residents to help combat food shortages. The city’s residents are prohibited from leaving their homes during the lockdown, which began earlier this month, and it has become increasingly difficult to purchase food. Some delivery apps have prohibited individual orders, meaning many residents have had to coordinate with neighbors to join large group orders. 

Last week at least two districts in eastern Shanghai warned residents about problems with moldy braised duck and meatballs or issues with the packaging of food that had been distributed by the government.

“The market regulator will investigate and punish this kind of violation strictly and fast,” Tao Ailian, an official at Shanghai’s market watchdog, said at a briefing on the issue last Wednesday. Ailian’s office also issued additional guidance for procuring and distributing fresh food packages, requiring organizers and producers to do more to ensure food safety.

It’s the latest incident in what has been a troubling lockdown period that has caused many to question the effectiveness of China’s “COVID-zero” policy. Shanghai is still reporting roughly 20,000 positive cases daily—the highest of the pandemic. The city reported 39 new COVID deaths on April 23, the highest daily toll since the lockdown began. COVID deaths were at just 12 the previous day, according to Reuters. 

Earlier this month a viral video showed frustrated residents screaming from the windows of their high-rise apartment buildings. The previous week a different video, appearing to show a Chinese health worker beating a COVID-positive resident’s dog to death, went viral. 

Residents told Fortune in April that they have become more frightened of China’s COVID-zero measures than of the virus itself.

Until case numbers are under control, it doesn’t seem as though the country has any plans to end the lockdowns, meaning it could be some time before the 25 million residents of Shanghai are able to freely leave their homes again. 

Sign up for the Fortune Features email list so you don’t miss our biggest features, exclusive interviews, and investigations.