China: half of Shanghai blocked for four days – 03/28/2022 12:36 pm


A man walks along the Bund, Shanghai’s historic artery, on March 28, 2022. (AFP/Hector RETAMAL) #

Containment in two phases: Half of Shanghai will be under glass this Monday as China’s economic capital of 25 million faces its worst Covid-19 outbreak in two years.

Shanghai residents living in the east of the city will be locked in houses until 5 am on April 1 with a ban on leaving them. On this day, the turn of the western part will come.

The announcement of the measure on Sunday evening prompted a rush of residents to supermarkets. Many of them are tired of the powerlessness of the authorities to curb this epidemic outbreak, despite several weeks of restrictions.

For the mayor’s office, this two-stage conclusion is aimed at speeding up screening of the population and overcoming new infections “as quickly as possible.”

Prior to this, Shanghai has tried to avoid total lockdowns that would have caused great damage to the economy, instead aiming to minimize disruption through a more targeted approach: 48-hour lockdowns of buildings or housing estates.

In recent days, the metropolis has become the epicenter of a new wave of infections linked to the Omicron variant, which began to accelerate in early March and is putting China’s Covid zero strategy to the test.

The health ministry reported 3,500 new positive cases in Shanghai on Monday.

– Zero Covid –

Chinese policemen in full health protection suits control access to a tunnel in Shanghai on March 28, 2022. (AFP/Hector RETAMAL) #

Chinese policemen in full health protection suits control access to a tunnel in Shanghai on March 28, 2022. (AFP/Hector RETAMAL) #

A limited part this Monday is “Pudong”, which notably includes the city’s main international airport and the famous business district with its huge symbolic skyscrapers.

From Friday, it will be Puxi, the western half of Shanghai, which will be under glass. It includes, in particular, the famous historical artery of the Bund, on the edge of the Huangpu River, which crosses the city.

The measure is widely regarded by the Shanghai people, some of whom on Monday opposed the new conclusion, which they considered too sudden.

“We really do not understand the anti-epidemic measures of the city hall. There is not enough consistency,” a 59-year-old man standing in line for groceries told AFP.

“After all this time, the city still cannot control the virus and the numbers continue to rise,” he laments.

A woman is tested for Covid-19 in Shanghai, March 28, 2022. (AFP/Hector RETAMAL) #

A woman is tested for Covid-19 in Shanghai, March 28, 2022. (AFP/Hector RETAMAL) #

City Hall did not immediately indicate what the consequences would be for Shanghai airports and its seaport.

China has largely eradicated the epidemic since 2020 thanks to quarantine upon arrival, mobile app tracking, and city lockdowns, sometimes imposed after a few incidents.

But the Omicron strain is undermining Covid zero: The Department of Health has reported thousands of new daily cases over the past two weeks.

– “Serious” –

Very low globally, but high in China, where new daily infections rarely exceed a hundred since spring 2020.

In recent weeks, millions of residents in affected regions across the country, such as the tech metropolis of Shenzhen (south) or the industrial city of Shenyang (northeast), have been placed under lockdown.

Chinese healthcare workers on the street in Shanghai, March 26, 2022. (AFP/Hector RETAMAL) #

Chinese healthcare workers on the street in Shanghai, March 26, 2022. (AFP/Hector RETAMAL) #

But if Shanghai and its previously intended restrictions struggle to overcome Omicron, others see the end of the tunnel.

Shenzhen, which was completely shut down in early March, is reopening because the number of new positive cases is now very low.

“I didn’t think things would be this bad in Shanghai,” Guo Yunlong, a 24-year-old Shanghai resident, told AFP.

“It affects many aspects of our lives, whether it’s buying food, housing, getting around… To be honest, I’m not very optimistic.”

Chinese authorities also watched nervously as the Omicron wave in Hong Kong claimed the lives of a large number of unvaccinated elderly.

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