© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A medical worker in a protective suit collects a swab sample from a cook 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, hoping it is the last week of battling the virus before gradually starting to ease restrictions, while Beijing continues to deal with much smaller but persistent fight against the epidemic.
China’s business hub of 25 million people hopes to emerge from a painful six-week lockdown later this month. On Saturday, authorities hoped that a final round of tightening would eradicate the last infections in the country’s worst outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Many residents of the nation’s most populous city, who were allowed to leave their residential complexes for short walks or quick grocery trips about a week ago, were recently given a three-day “silent” period to stay indoors.
Many buildings were told overnight that restrictions would be extended until Friday. Silence often means residents can’t leave their homes, which in some cases could mean no deliveries.
Linette Lim, who has been in lockdown for more than 40 days, said her community was notified of this on Friday, a day after the official risk level was lowered 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 the current difficulties for the collective good while people have been complying and coping with whatever is thrown at them,” she said.
“But somehow the goalposts kept moving,” Lim said. “Nerves, people don’t have the ultimate goal to look forward to.”
Closure of quarantine centers
Hundreds of millions of people in dozens of Chinese cities are living under varying degrees of coronavirus restrictions. The measures are hurting consumption and manufacturing in the world’s second-largest economy and disrupting global trade and supply chains.
Some analysts expect the economy to contract this quarter. Officials promised more stimulus.
China will offer subsidies, tax cuts and easier lending to boost prospects for college graduates, as a record 10.76 million people will complete college and enter the workforce this year amid a weak economy, the cabinet said on Friday. market.
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, down from more than 2,000 the day before — with all areas under the strictest controls.
Cases detected in relatively liberal communities are being watched closely for clues about where the outbreak is headed. One such case was detected on Friday, down from four the day before.
Beijing reports 56 cases a day, up from 50. 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. With many streets in Beijing eerily quiet, residents appear to be heeding the advice.
Mass testing in much of the city has become an almost daily routine.
Authorities in the capital have banned restaurant dine-in services, closed some malls, entertainment and tourist venues, suspended parts of the bus, subway and taxi systems, and imposed blockades on some residential buildings.