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Coping with Quarantine: A Perspective from Shanghai

Over the past several months, Omicron-fueled outbreaks of COVID-19 and corresponding response measures have caused disruptions to China’s supply chains, factory production and the daily lives of its residents.

Companies operating in China have had to deal with many challenges, not the least of which is providing for the well-being of their employees amidst lockdowns and quarantines. PRI’s team has been no exception.

The outbreak has been most severe in Shanghai. One of PRI’s team members based in Shanghai shared his experience.

I’m writing this message from my apartment in Shanghai where we’ve been on lockdown for 26 days straight and 32 days of lockdown over the last month or so and have done dozens of COVID tests.

Every positive test in our 2500-person compound restarts a “7+7” clock: 7 days of in-home lockdown plus 7 days of being locked in our compound (but able to leave our homes).

We have enough food, although it’s stressful and expensive to find the food we typically eat here. We have a patio large enough for our family to sit in lawn chairs in the sun and read Harry Potter out loud. However, the trapped feeling is always there.

Our city is facing the Omicron variant of COVID-19 which is known for short incubation periods (3-5 days) and mild symptoms in most people (like a bad cold). We know a handful of people here who have been positive and all their symptoms have been mild. We don’t fear the virus.

However, most of those who test positive are taken to quarantine centers (regardless of symptoms or not). It seems that some are able to home quarantine, but for a while it looked like everyone, including children of any age, would be taken from their families if the child tested positive but the parent did not. It’s still not guaranteed that children can remain with parents, but the official word is that parents of kids with “special needs” can “apply” to be with their children who test positive.

The roads outside our house have been very quiet for the whole lockdown. Only in the last couple of days have I seen an occasional delivery guy on a scooter. Our typical means of buying groceries and other goods are still completely stagnant.

In another example of disruptions to business, a team of PRI’s Beijing-based consultants recently returned home after a trip to three neighboring provinces on a site selection project for a client. Unfortunately, they shared a train with a contact of a COVID case, which landed them in a week-long centralized quarantine (at a government-designated hotel) and subjected them to several more rounds of testing.

In light of the continued possibility for lockdowns and quarantines at a moment’s notice, PRI has been constantly updating recommendations for its employees on how to prepare.

Below are a few tips from our friend in Shanghai.

1. Plan to be without any deliveries for two months, except for some vegetables and fruit.

2. Buy a water filter now. With deliveries almost impossible, we've heard of many people having trouble getting the water they need. So, either stock up (plan for two months) or get a water filter.

3. Stock up on things you might forget you need: toiletries, spices, and snacks. I'm almost out of deodorant. I've never had to ration deodorant, but I am now (my poor family).

4. Stock up on medicine & supplements.

5. Finally, apart from physical needs, mental/emotional health is very important and deeply affected by the lockdown. Have a plan for yourself to stay healthy: follow a routine each day, spend time in the sun as much as possible (on a patio or in front of a window), don't read the news and group chats all day, and have video chats with friends (they need connection, too).

If you or your team need support in your planning for the impacts on your team or supply chain, please do not hesitate to reach out to PRI's team of Human Resource and Supply Chain professionals.

About PRI: PRI Management and Consulting helps companies thrive in China because we think like owners. With offices in each of China’s major economic super-regions, we help you develop growth strategies, hire and administer some of the world's best engineering talent, build your supply chains and sell your products and services to the world's fastest growing and biggest market.

To schedule your free consultation with PRI’s experienced team of consultants and managers, write to Jonathan Kendrick at


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