© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A medical worker in a protective suit collects a swab sample from a chef for nucleic acid testing during the lockdown during the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic in Shanghai, China, May 13, 2022. REUTERS/Aly Song
SHANGHAI/BEIJING (Reuters) – Shanghai is tightening its COVID-19 lockdown as it hopes this is the last week of battling the virus before it can gradually begin to ease restrictions, while Beijing continues to work with a much smaller But a protracted outbreak fights.
China’s mall of 25 million people hopes to emerge from a painful six-week lockdown later this month. On Saturday, authorities hoped a final round of tightening would eliminate the last infections in the country’s worst coronavirus outbreak.
Many residents in the country’s most populous city, who were allowed to leave their residential areas for short walks or quick grocery trips about a week ago, were recently given stay-at-home notices for a three-day “silent” period.
Many buildings were told overnight that restrictions would be extended until Friday. Silence often means residents can’t leave their homes, and in some cases can mean no deliveries.
Linette Lim, who has been in solitary confinement for more than 40 days, said her community received such notice on Friday, a day after the official risk level was reduced to a level that should theoretically lead to an easing of restrictions.
“It’s very frustrating because everyone is being asked to make sacrifices to overcome current difficulties for the collective good, while people have been respecting and dealing with whatever is thrown at them,” she said.
“But somehow the goalposts kept moving,” Lim said. “Nervousness, people have no end goal to achieve. »
Closure of quarantine centers
Hundreds of millions of people in dozens of Chinese cities are living under varying degrees of coronavirus restrictions. The measures hurt consumption and manufacturing in the world’s second-largest economy and disrupted global trade and supply chains.
Some analysts expect the economy to contract this quarter. Officials promised more stimulus.
China will offer grants, tax breaks and easier loans to boost prospects for college graduates, the company said on Friday, as a record 10.76 million people entered college and the labor market this year and the economy weakened.
China’s unemployment rate hit its highest level in nearly two years in March at 5.8%, while the youth unemployment rate stood at 16%, the highest since July 2021.
Ding Bo, a Shanghai official, said on Saturday that the number of patients in isolation hospitals had dropped to 50,000, just one-fifth of last month’s peak. As a result, the authorities closed five quarantine centers, he said.
The city is reporting more than 1,500 coronavirus cases a day, up from more than 2,000 the day before — all in the most tightly controlled areas.
Cases detected in relatively liberal communities are being closely monitored for clues about the direction of the outbreak. One such case was detected on Friday, after four the day before.
Beijing is reporting 56 cases a day, down from 50 previously. The capital has seen dozens of new cases almost every day since the first infection was detected on April 22.
This week, officials in the capital denied rumors of an imminent lockdown, urging people not to panic buy and to stay home. Locals seem to be heeding the advice, as many of Beijing’s streets are eerily quiet.
Mass testing in large parts of the city has become almost a daily routine.
Authorities in the capital have banned restaurant dine-in services, closed some shopping malls, entertainment and tourist venues, suspended some bus, subway and taxi systems and closed some residential buildings.