STORY: Once again, Shanghai’s streets are empty.
More than two years on from the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, China’s financial hub is in one of its most extensive lockdowns yet.
The snap two-stage lockdown was announced by the local government late on Sunday (March 27).
Through closing bridges and tunnels, the restrictions roughly split Shanghai in two along the Huangpu River.
Over nine days, healthcare workers in white hazmat suits aim to carry out “staggered” testing of the country’s most populous city, which is struggling to contain cases.
Confined once again to their homes, the announcement has taken some by surprise.
PhD student Marek Narozniak says he woke up to find a fence around his compound.
“I was very upset and angry when I learnt that we are locked up, and especially that I learnt that we are locked up. And I learned in such a horrible way. You know, like go outside and see there is a fence and you're like in a cage, and that's it."
“So I think this whole operation is causing a lot of harm to many people and a lot of suffering and I don't really believe it is necessary or appropriate."
While many of the city’s 26 million people share Marek’s exasperation, others are upbeat.
Like 30 year-old Jo He:
"With one adjective, I think we should be calm, and face this positively. It may persist for a while, so it would be better to face it with a positive attitude, and then allow this epidemic to pass over as soon as possible. Let Shanghai return to its former liveliness as soon as possible."
Shanghai's caseload remains modest by global standards - with 96 symptomatic cases on Monday (March 28).
But the city has become a testing ground for China's "zero-COVID" strategy as it tries to bring the highly infectious Omicron variant under control.
On Monday alone Shanghai conducted more than 8 million tests at over 60,000 stations throughout its locked down districts.