- Beijing closes more gyms, malls, cinemas to contain outbreak
- Delivery companies work overtime to supply residents
- “The virus is what’s hurting the economy” – health official
BEIJING/SHANGHAI, April 29 (Reuters) – China’s capital Beijing closed more businesses and residential compounds on Friday, with authorities ramping up contact tracing to contain a COVID-19 outbreak, while resentment at the month-long lockdown in Shanghai grew.
In the finance hub, fenced-in people have been protesting against the lockdown and difficulties in obtaining provisions by banging on pots and pans in the evenings, according to a Reuters witness and residents.
A video shared on social media, whose authenticity could not be immediately verified, showed a woman warning people via a loud-hailer not to do so, saying such gestures were being encouraged by “outsiders.”
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The Shanghai government did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In Beijing, authorities were in a race against time to detect COVID cases and isolate those who have been around them.
A sign placed outside a residential complex read “Entry only. No exit.”
Polish resident Joanna Szklarska, 51, was sent to a quarantine hotel as a close contact, but she refused to share the room, which had only one bed, with her neighbour.
She was sent back home, where authorities installed a front door alarm. Then she was called back to the hotel, where she now has her own room.
“Nothing makes sense here,” the English-language consultant said by phone.
At a regular press conference on Friday, Chinese health officials did not respond to questions on whether Beijing will go under lockdown or what circumstances might prompt such measures.
The Chaoyang district, the first to undergo mass testing this week, started the last of three rounds of screening on Friday among its 3.5 million residents. Most other districts are due for their third round of tests on Saturday.
More apartment blocks were sealed, preventing residents from leaving, and certain spas, KTV lounges, gyms, cinemas and libraries and at least two shopping malls closed on Friday.
Chaoyang, which has the biggest share of cases in Beijing, declared more neighbourhoods to be at risk.
People who had recently visited venues in such areas have received text messages telling them to stay put until they get their test results.
“Hello citizens! You have recently visited the beef noodles & braised chicken shop in Guanghui Li community,” one such text read. “Please report to your compound or hotel immediately, stay put and wait for the notification of nucleic acid testing.”
“If you violate the above requirements and cause the epidemic to spread, you will bear legal responsibility.”
Companies such as JD.com, an e-commerce platform, have been striving to keep residents well supplied.
The head of one of its logistics centres on the outskirts of Beijing, 32-year-old Ming Tang, said delivery volumes have increased by 65% since the first cases emerged on April 22, and 80% of the parcels are food-related.
“The effort of delivering parcels on time and long working hours put a lot of pressure on our couriers,” he said.
Beijing reported 49 cases on April 28, versus 50 the previous day, a far cry from Shanghai’s numbers.
The April 30-May 4 Labour Day break is one of China’s busiest tourist seasons, and the travel industry is taking losses. read more
Companies reopening factories in Shanghai are booking hotel rooms to house workers and turning vacant workshops into on-site isolation facilities as authorities urge them to resume work under COVID curbs.
Once inside a factory’s “closed loop” system, it is unclear when workers will be able to come back out. read more
Many foreigners want to flee mainland China’s most cosmopolitan city. read more
In response to COVID and other headwinds, China will step up policy support for the economy, a top decision-making body of the ruling Communist Party said on Friday, lifting stocks (.CSI300), (.SSEC) from recent two-year lows. read more
Chinese authorities say being COVID-free is vital to save as many lives as possible.
“We must realize that the virus is what’s hurting the economy,” said Liang Wannian, head of the National Health Commission’s COVID response panel.
“The battle against the COVID epidemic is a war, a war of resistance, a people’s war,” Liang said.
In Shanghai, authorities said more people have been gradually allowed in principle to leave their homes recently. More than 12 million, nearly half the population, are now in that category. read more
Still, many cannot leave their compounds, while those who can have few places to go to as shops and other venues are closed. Often one of the 52,000 police mobilised for the lockdown asks them to return home.
Many residents have grumbled at the inflexible policing, which sometimes does not take into account health emergencies or other individual circumstances.
“There are still many shortcomings in our work,” Shu Qing, head of the Municipal Public Security Bureau, told reporters.
“Some individual policemen do not pay attention to styles or methods when enforcing the law, or they are emotional or mechanical.”
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Reporting by Martin Quin Pollard, Eduardo Baptista, David Stanway, Brenda Goh, Tony Munroe, Roxanne Liu, Albee Zhang, Wang Yifan, and the Beijing and Shanghai bureaus; Writing by Marius Zaharia; Editing by Lincoln Feast.
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.