The ongoing lockdown in Shanghai looks puzzling on the surface. On the one hand, official data shows that the Omicron Covid-19 variant has done very little, if any, damage to human health as there’s only one reported serious illness and zero deaths. On the other hand, the draconian measures – with the stated purpose of protecting life and health in the city – have created numerous cases of human suffering, even if economic losses are not calculated. If everything goes as planned, Shanghai will successfully bring the current wave under control in the coming weeks. But “what’s next?” remains a question. Shanghai may follow in the footsteps of Shenzhen and make nucleic testing a part of residents’ daily routine for an indefinite period. Shanghai lockdown spurs race to stockpile food across China The Shanghai experience in handling Omicron will have nationwide implications. The city’s attempts in the early days to avoid a citywide lockdown and massive testing are now seen as a total failure technically, and even politically. The mainstream view in China is that the city of 25 million missed its chance to act decisively and swiftly in enforcing the official “dynamic zero” policy – and that is a lesson to be dearly learned. After Shanghai, anyone questioning whether the “dynamic zero” policy is suitable in dealing with Omicron is increasingly seen as a dissident voice. Multiple editorials from Chinese state media, calling for a doubling down on the chosen path, show that it is impossible for China to shift course in the near future. Local officials in other parts of the country now get the message that they should always move ahead of the curve by imposing “snap lockdowns” and mass testing. Guangzhou, the provincial capital city of Guangdong, proved the point over the weekend with mass testing after a few confirmed cases. There is little doubt that this will become the new normal. As such, China could enter a period of frequent and localised lockdowns. These lockdowns will not be as extensive as those in Shanghai and Changchun , the capital city of northeastern Jilin province. If the lockdowns are brief and confined to a specific district or county, the rest of the country can go about business as usual. This period, during which travel to China will continue to be subject to strict quarantines, may not end until effective medicine for Covid-19 is widely available or vaccination of the whole population is completed. However, the long-term impact of multiple or repeated lockdowns is harder to measure and predict. For instance, China’s new affluent middle class, like those crying out for vegetables in their luxurious apartments in Shanghai, may be more willing to migrate, and many things that have been taken for granted since China’s economic liberalisation will be reconsidered.