As Beijing tightens coronavirus restrictions, hard-hit Shanghai sees signs of life 2022-05-01 07:46:00


  • The outbreak of the Corona virus in Beijing enters the tenth day
  • Shanghai reported the second day of no cases outside the quarantine areas
  • Shanghai has begun to ease restrictions on some areas

BEIJING/SHANGHAI (Reuters) – The Chinese capital, Beijing, tightened restrictions on the spread of the Corona virus on Sunday as it battled the outbreak, while Shanghai allowed more of its 25 million residents outside for light and air after reporting a second day of zero infections outside the capital. Quarantine areas.

The outbreak in Shanghai, which began in March, was the worst in China since the epidemic’s early months in 2020. Hundreds of thousands have been infected, and the city has prevented residents from leaving their homes, sparking great public anger.

Vice Premier Sun Chunlan, personally in Shanghai to oversee the city’s epidemic control work, said Sunday that while now is not the time to relax, communities without new cases should be allowed for seven days to return to “normal social order.”

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The outbreak in China’s most populous city and the risk of the virus spreading in Beijing are testing the government’s COVID-free approach that has put huge strains on local economies in a year in which Xi Jinping is expected to secure an unprecedented third term as president.

Beijing, where dozens of daily infections are spreading on its 10th day, has not closed its doors. More than 300 locally transferred cases have been recorded since April 22.

But the capital on Sunday tightened social distancing rules and launched a new round of mass testing in the hardest-hit areas.

The city of 22 million people last week conducted mass testing in most of its 16 counties, suspended all entertainment venues and banned dining in restaurants.

“The effect of all this on us is so great – 20,000 yuan ($3,000) went in one day, just like this!” said Jia, manager of a burger restaurant in eastern Beijing.

“Our boss stresses this too,” Jia said, requesting that his name not be mentioned except by his surname. “We have three branches in Shanghai. They all closed down and lost money for a month. And now this.”

Beijing’s Universal Studios theme park closed on Sunday, while in the heavily-visited Badaling section of the Great Wall, visitors were required to show evidence of negative COVID test results before entering.

Chaoyang District, which accounts for the largest proportion of infections in the outbreak in Beijing, has begun an additional round of mass testing, with public health workers knocking on doors to remind residents to get tested.

“I do a PCR test every day and I know I’m not sick,” said a Chaoyang resident surnamed Ma, whose local health app on her mobile phone marked her profile as abnormal.

“I feel caged like I’m sick,” said Ma, who works in finance. “These restrictions are too excessive.”

Reuters graphics

Anger in Shanghai

Shanghai’s citywide lockdown since early April has caused concerns about food and concern about moving them to crowded quarantine centers if they contract the virus.

Strict measures taken to close apartment complexes, including fencing the entrances to buildings, sparked a wave of outrage.

Some residents turned to social media to vent their frustration, some clashed over pots and pans outside their windows, and others clashed with public health workers.

The song “Do you hear the people sing?” From the musical “Les Miserables” it became a popular protest anthem. On Saturday, a video of a Chinese orchestra playing the song, with the musicians performing from their homes, went viral online, with nearly 19,000 posts before it was banned.

Reuters graphics

While much of the city has remained closed, new cases have fallen by half in recent days, prompting state media to describe the situation as steadily improving and being “effectively under control”, suggesting a loosening of restrictions in the future.

Shanghai officials said, on an optimistic note at a press conference on Sunday, that restrictions will be eased in some areas after the city was able to curb the risks of transmission at the community level, except for cases in quarantine centers.

Six of its 16 counties have reached COVID-free status, which means three consecutive days with no new daily increases in infections, senior city government official Gu Hongwei told a virtual press conference.

At the press conference, a health official said that public transportation would be allowed to resume in five areas, but residents should stay in their areas while visiting supermarkets, pharmacies and hospitals.

Social media posts showed the streets of Fengxian, one of the six counties, filled with pedestrians and choked with scooters and bicycles.

Excluding imported cases from outside the mainland, China reported 8,256 new domestic cases on Saturday, down from 10,703 the day before. Beijing saw 59 cases, while Shanghai saw 7,872 new cases and all 38 deaths in the country. Read more

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Additional reporting by Ryan Wu, Jing Shu, Brenda Goh, Martin Quinn Pollard, Alessandro Diffigiano and Zhang Yan; Editing by William Mallard, Tom Hogg and Angus McSwan

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