Anti-zero COVID protests erupted in Urumqi, China on Friday following the deaths of 10 people in an apartment block fire.
This was after footage posted on social media showed fire trucks spraying water from too far away to reach the apartment building, with internet users claiming authorities could not get closer due to pandemic barricades and cars that had been abandoned by people who had been quarantined.
Over the weekend, the protests spread to major cities including Beijing, Shanghai, Nanjing, Wuhan and Chengdu, according to Al Jazeera.
Videos and photographs of the protests circulated on Chinese social media platforms such as WeChat and Weibo but were allegedly deleted by government censors.
Protestors are seen tearing down barricades, calling for the resignation of Chinese President Xi Jinping, and holding up blank white pieces of paper as a symbol of protest.
China recently recorded a COVID-19 resurgence prompting authorities to impose a new wave of lockdowns and restrictions on freedom of movement in big cities, including Beijing, Shanghai, Chongqing, and Guangzhou.
Health authorities reported 40 347 new infections for Sunday, a fifth straight daily record.
Residents of Urumqi, where the recent protests began, have lived under harsh restrictions since August 10, in what is believed to be China’s longest continuous lockdown.
China’s “zero-COVID” policy which is aimed at curbing new infections and relies on lockdowns, border controls and mass testing, has kept cases and deaths low compared with elsewhere but inflicted serious economic and social costs.