Dane broke out of apartment in Shanghai and walked 20 km to the airport after 17 days of hunger

Danish Andreas’ covid nightmare in Shanghai came to an end when he found a ticket out of the country, but before that, he had to beg for food from the neighbors and fight with security guards.

DR news writes that when Andreas was told that his living quarters would be in lockdown for a week from March 28, he ran out to find provisions. But there was not much left in the supermarket as the rest of Shanghai had the same idea.

“I found some noodles and that was it,” says Andreas, who does not want his last name published for fear that he can not return to China.

What followed were 17 days of food shortages, begging, humiliation, and a desperate escape attempt to get out of Shanghai, China’s richest city, under complete covid lockdown in the third week.

In the city, 26 million people have been detained for a total of between three and five weeks as a result of China’s zero-covid policy. And lack of food, water, and medicine has led to protests, an extreme rarity in a city like Shanghai.

Officially, the shutdown of Shanghai was supposed to be lifted on 5 April, but the night before, the authorities extended it indefinitely.

Andreas only had some flour and eggs left at that time. “I panicked and reached out to everyone I could, but there was no one who could help. People around me were in the same situation. I wrote in our building’s group chat and tried to exchange what I had left with something that had more nourishment,” Andreas says.

“It is insanely surreal and humiliating that I as an adult man have to run around and beg for food,” he says.

Outside, the whole city was closed down and it was not possible to shop for food anywhere. The delivery of food orders ordered via mobile apps was also shut down when a positive covid case emerged in Andreas’ living quarters. Among the ten buildings of 42 floors in the residential area, one person had a positive test, and thus the entire residential area was sealed from the outside world.

It was not just Andreas who was short of food. Among the neighbors, begging was common.

Andreas knew he had to leave the country as it would be better to be sick with covid outside of China than to sit hungrily and trapped in Shanghai. But the problem was getting to the airport in a completely locked down city.

He had previously tried to leave but four guards had expedited him back to his apartment. Thursday morning last week however he set off again.

“I pushed the guard away and set off running out on the street. I had neither food nor water for the trip, but I was just going away,” Andreas says. 

Twice he was stopped by police who asked what he was doing out on the street. He had a letter from the Danish Consulate, which technically allowed him to go to the airport, and then pretended he did not speak English or Chinese and just hoped they would let him pass. 

He ended up walking 18 to 20 kilometers to the airport where he took an airport bus to the city’s international airport at the other end of the city. There he spent a night before getting his first real meal aboard the plane after a nearly 40-hour struggle to leave China.

“I have lost five kilos. I have bought a lot of food now, but can not eat it,” Andreas says.

He now plans to spend two months outside China. 


About Gregers Møller

Editor-in-Chief • ScandAsia Publishing Co., Ltd. • Bangkok, Thailand

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