Chinese cities and factories lock down as outbreak spreads - GulfToday

Chinese cities and factories lock down as outbreak spreads


People are seen receiving nucleic acid tests for the Covid-19 in Shenzhen, China. File/AFP

Seventeen million people in the Chinese tech hub of Shenzhen began their first full day under lockdown Monday, with restrictions also imposed in Shanghai and other major cities in an effort to extinguish the biggest threat to the nation's zero-tolerance Covid strategy.

The southern city took the measures on Sunday as authorities battled an Omicron flare-up in factories and neighbourhoods linked to nearby Hong Kong, which is recording scores of daily deaths as the virus runs rampant.


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Shenzhen is one of ten areas nationwide to issue some level of stay-at-home order.

Health officials have warned tighter measures could be on their way, as concerns mount over the resilience of China's "zero-Covid" approach in the face of the highly-transmissible Omicron variant.

A worker collects a swab from a resident at a testing site in Chaoyang district of Beijing on Monday. Reuters

Authorities reported 2,300 new virus cases nationwide on Monday and almost 3,400 a day earlier, the highest daily figure in two years.

"There have been many small-scale clusters in urban villages and factories," Shenzhen city official Huang Qiang said at a Monday briefing.

"This suggests a high risk of community spread, and further precautions are still needed."

Photos shared with AFP by a Shenzhen resident showed entrances to a housing compound blocked by large plastic barriers, as residents swapped jokes on social media about their rush to grab laptops from offices before the lockdown.

Tech stocks tumbled on the Hong Kong exchange in early trading Monday, as concerns over the impact of the virus spread in Shenzhen — a hub for iPhone maker Foxconn, as well as Huawei and Tencent — spooked investors.

Toughing it out

In Shanghai, China's largest city, residential areas and offices in some neighbourhoods remained sealed off on Monday, as city authorities try to avoid a full lockdown.

A medical worker collects a sample to be tested for the Covid-19 in Hangzhou, China, on Monday. AFP

The city reported around 170 new virus cases on Monday, enough to seed anxiety among businesses over the economic pain ahead.

A restauranteur with four outlets in different parts of the city, said he has to wade through a morass of hyper-local restrictions, giving an indication of how ordinary life in China is still spun on its head by a pandemic that has eased across much of the world.

"Different districts adopt different policies," he told AFP, requesting anonymity.

"I want to close one and keep the rest open, and see how it goes later. What else can I do except for tough it out?"

Agence France-Presse


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