It is more than a month after Shanghai lifted its hardline lockdown, and residents still struggle to shake off the psychological imprints it left behind.

Facing COVID-19 and its highly transmissible variants, China is the only country that continues to adhere to its zero-COVID policy. For Shanghainese, the strict measures are straining their nerves, causing anxiety, stress, and depression.

A resident told media outlet Da Ji Yuan they had been living with great anxiety and sleep disturbances. The person dreads everything, from phone ringing, knocking on the door, footsteps going upstairs, to the sound of heavy objects falling. 

These sounds reminded the resident of the time isolated in a hotel. There would be PCR tests at 5 a.m. every morning during that time.

Then, there is the COVID-positive prejudice. Even as the citywide lockdown is lifted, any community in Shanghai could wake up the next day learning that their residential building has been sealed because of one single person who contracted the virus.

One vivid example of COVID-positive discrimination is the story of Shanghai resident Chen Feng. After being released from the hospital for contracting the virus, he tried applying for a job but was turned down because of his COVID history.

Caixin.com reported that after Shanghai was reopened at the beginning of June, many residents flocked to the Shanghai Mental Health Center for treatment. A long queue was captured and shared on the internet. 

The news agency noted that the number of outpatient visits at the facility on June 1 and 2 exceeded the average number of outpatient visits; 97% were returning patients.

A Shanghai resident surnamed Fang said residents feel dehumanized. Fang reminded that officials would forcibly go to houses, tell people they are COVID-positive, drag them out, and take their house keys. Fang believed it was similar to house raids during the Cultural Revolution. 

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