The country reported 1,100 new locally-transmitted cases on Thursday -- which, though nowhere near the level seen in other nations, is considered high by China's standards. It marked the highest daily total since the virus emerged in Wuhan in 2020
, prompting alarm among local and national leaders.
Throughout the pandemic, China has adhered to a strict zero-Covid
policy that aims to stamp out all outbreaks and chains of transmission using a combination of border controls, mass testing, quarantine procedures and lockdowns.
Authorities fell back on these familiar tactics as cases began surging around the country last week, imposing targeted lockdowns for residents in high-risk areas and mandatory quarantine for close contacts.
In Shanghai, where infections are rising, the city government converted several apartments into centralized quarantine centers, forcing tenants to clear out all their belongings, according to several government notices seen by CNN.
Snap lockdowns have also trapped a growing number of residents, office workers and schoolchildren with little advance notice, keeping them in their workplaces or schools until everybody inside tests negative, according to local residents.
But more than two years into the pandemic, public patience with these measures -- especially when executed at speed and with little consideration for the human impact -- appears to be fraying.
At the Jilin Agricultural Science and Technology University in northeastern Jilin province, students took to social media to plead for help, saying they had been left to fend for themselves after a cluster was detected on campus.
In one widely-shared post on China's Twitter-like platform Weibo, a user claiming to be a student at the university complained that infected students had been isolated in libraries and academic buildings, "all breaking down and crying."
"Many students in my dormitory had fever, but counselors just gave us fever reducers and told us to sleep with a warm quilt," the user wrote on Thursday. "There is a serious shortage of daily necessities. Girls have no sanitary pads. Students are bleeding and hurting, crying and calling their families."
CNN has reached out to the university through its official Weibo account for comment. The school's official website, and any additional contact information, has been taken offline as of Friday.
The Weibo user added that students isolated in their dormitories found "their doors were sealed off and they can't even go to the dormitory's public toilet." When the students tried to call the government's Covid-19 control center, phone operators "refused to answer our questions," he said.