BEIJING (AP) — The city of Shanghai is doubling down on pandemic restrictions after a brief easing period, frustrating residents who hoped the more than a month-long lockdown would finally ease as the number of new cases falls. in the financial center of China.
On Tuesday, service was suspended on the last two subway lines still in operation, marking the first time the entire city system has been shut down, according to The Paper, an online media outlet.
Teams in white protective suits have begun entering the homes of people infected with coronavirus to spray disinfectant, raising concerns among some about damage to clothing and valuables, and leaving their keys with a community volunteer when they are quarantined, a new requirement for disinfectant workers to enter.
In some areas, people have been ordered stay in their homes again for a “quiet period” after being let out for limited purchases in recent weeks.
China’s adherence to a “zero-COVID” strategy, while many other countries loosen restrictions and try to live with the virus, is demanding economic growth. and human cost. Increasingly extreme measures have been required to control outbreaks because the omicron variant spreads so easily. The ruling Communist Party of China, with its sights set on a major party congress this fall, shows no signs of backing down any time soon.
Fengxian district, a suburban area in southern Shanghai, entered a “quiet period” on Monday, with permits for residents to leave their compounds suspended and shops and supermarkets closed except for delivery, Shanghai reported. MediaGroup.
Supermarket workers filled bags with celery, cooking oil and other groceries in a designated area, where delivery men picked them up. Xie Yu, the manager, said the store is also trying to restock high-demand products. “When offline sales resume, customers will be able to buy what they need right away,” he said.
Escaping Shanghai is nearly impossible, but that didn’t stop an unofficial how-to guide, detailing how to navigate lockdown checkpoints and get a seat on the few trains and planes that leave the city, from circulating widely on social media. Many in the city of 25 million people shared their frustrations over the renewed restrictions on chat groups.
The daily number of new cases in Shanghai had fallen to about 3,000 on Monday, from a high of 26,000 in mid-April. Six more deaths related to COVID-19 were reported, bringing the number of victims of the outbreak to 553.
Meanwhile, Beijing began another three-day round of mass testing for millions of its residents on Tuesday in a bid to prevent an outbreak in the nation’s capital from growing to Shanghai proportions. The city, which recorded 74 new cases on Monday, has closed individual buildings and residential complexes, closed some 60 subway stations and banned dining in restaurants.allowing only takeout and delivery.
The outbreak has not broken out but it has not stopped spreading either. Beijing spokesman Xu Hejian described the situation on Tuesday as a “stalemate” and said the city must continue its strict measures.
While traffic is light in Beijing, it’s almost non-existent in Shanghai, where the lockdown has been going on the longest and stretches across the city. AP video shot Monday showed a quiet, deserted city, with only the very occasional vehicle and a few food delivery drivers on scooters moving along empty roads. Most people are confined to their apartments or residential complexes, although there has been some relaxation in outlying suburban areas with no new cases in their communities.
But the notices issued in various districts of Shanghai in recent days it has ordered residents to stay home and barred them from receiving non-essential deliveries as part of a “quiet period” that lasts until Wednesday or longer. The measures could be extended depending on the results of the mass tests, the notices said. The sudden readjustment took residents by surprise.
Shanghai official Jin Chen on Tuesday appeared to acknowledge complaints about people’s homes being disinfected, thanking them for their cooperation and saying the government will look into and fix any problems. He said residents can tell the teams about any items that need protection.
“Carrying out home disinfection is an important part of overall epidemic prevention and control,” he told a daily virus briefing.
A constitutional law professor, Tong Zhiwei, recently published an article calling on Shanghai to end what he called “excessive pandemic prevention measures” such as quarantining residents and forcing them to hand over their keys to their homes. home, saying the requirements contravene the rule of law.
The article has been removed from the internet as the government censors criticism of its response.
Thousands of people have been forced into quarantine centers. after testing positive or having been in contact with an infected person, standard procedure in China’s zero-COVID approach.
Associated Press researchers Si Chen in Shanghai and Yu Bing in Beijing and video producer Caroline Chen in Guangzhou, China, contributed to this report.