Shanghai will test more than half of its 25 million residents for Covid-19 this weekend, fueling fears of a possible return to tougher restrictions just days after China’s financial hub shut down. two months of painful confinement.
Notices of mass testing have revived fears among Shanghai residents of a return to a strict and prolonged lockdown. Many of them were confined to their homes for two months or more, beginning in March.
And those concerns, in turn, triggered panic buying. On Thursday, residents rushed to supermarkets to stock up on food and other basic necessities, forming long lines at checkouts and leaving shelves empty, according to photos and videos circulating on social media.
The districts that will carry out mass tests in Shanghai
At least 7 of the city’s 16 districts, with a combined population of 15 million people, will carry out mass testing this weekend, Zhao Dandan, deputy director of the Shanghai Municipal Health Commission, announced at a press conference. this Thursday. Among the 7 districts are the most populated areas and busiest business centers, such as Pudong and Xuhui.
Districts that have reported positive COVID-19 cases since Shanghai lifted the lockdown on June 1 will be placed under “closed management” during the collection of samples for testing, Zhao said. However, she did not specify how long the period to collect the samples will last.
In the parlance of China’s zero covid-19 policy, “closed driving” usually refers to restrictions that prevent people from leaving their residential communities or workplaces.
But the mass testing campaign extends far beyond the seven districts that Shanghai health authorities have named.
Other places follow suit
On Thursday night, the Changning district — home to the Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport and where 700,000 people reside — announced on its official social media account that it will carry out mass tests for covid-19 this Saturday.
“During the sample collection period, closed management will be applied in residential communities, where (residents) can only enter but not exit,” the statement read.
Earlier Thursday, the Songjiang district also reported on social media that its 1.9 million residents are due to undergo COVID-19 tests over the weekend.
Shanghai continues to report positive cases
Workers in hazmat suits set up barriers outside a building in Shanghai on June 9 to prevent residents from leaving.
China’s leaders have repeatedly pledged to adhere to a zero-Covid-19 policy, which aims to quickly eliminate local outbreaks with mass testing, instant lockdowns, extensive contact tracing and quarantines.
Officials warn that an easing of the policy will lead to an increase in hospitalizations and deaths among the country’s elderly population. Many of which have not yet been fully vaccinated.
But the strategy faces a growing challenge from the highly transmissible omicron variant, while fueling growing discontent among residents whose lives have often been affected.
In China, the detection of a single positive case can force an entire building or community into government quarantine, as well as lock down several nearby neighborhoods for two weeks.
Since restrictions were eased on June 1, Shanghai has continued to report Covid-19 cases, including among residents outside of quarantined areas. As a consequence, an increasing number of neighborhoods have returned to strict lockdown measures.
A video obtained by Citizen Free Press shows tall fences being put up to cordon off a large part of the former French concession area in central Shanghai.
On Thursday, Shanghai authorities reported six new local cases of covid-19, three of which were traced to a downtown hair salon. State media previously reported that three employees at the venue have tested positive, likely resulting in the quarantining of 13 other workers and 502 customers who visited the salon last week, as well as their close contacts.
A Shanghai resident told Citizen Free Press that more than 200 people living in two buildings in his neighborhood are under lockdown, after two residents were identified as close contacts of the hairdressing cases.
Meanwhile in Beijing, the city’s largest district on Thursday announced the closure of all entertainment venues, including bars, internet cafes and some sports facilities. Also just a few days after allowing them to reopen.
The abrupt turnaround came after authorities reported three local Covid-19 cases, all linked to a bar in the Chaoyang district, where the capital’s main nightlife scenes are located. Since then, several other districts in Beijing have announced similar closures.
Melissa Galbraith is the World News reporter for Globe Live Media. She covers all the major events happening around the World. From Europe to Americas, from Asia to Antarctica, Melissa covers it all. Never miss another Major World Event by bookmarking her author page right here.