Unease is rising in Shanghai as the number of daily local Covid cases hit 2,719 on Tuesday and some residents received orders to stay-at-home and notices to undergo mandatory testing.
That figure, for China’s biggest commercial centre, while small by global standards, was the biggest since mid-August. And it appeared to prompt other cities such as Guangzhou and Dandong to tighten measures, although Zhengzhou unexpectedly eased its quasi-lockdown.
Authorities are racing to trace contacts linked to a Covid-positive woman whose visit to the city’s Disney Resort prompted its temporary lockdown.
In Zhenghzou, in the central China, Apple iPhone manufacturer Foxconn announced a big increase in bonuses to stem an exodus of workers rattled by coronavirus curbs at its vast facility there, as the country’s strict zero-Covid policy exacts a rising toll on China’s economy.
The Shanghai Disney Resort shut its gates abruptly on Monday, locking in all visitors at the time and only allowing them to leave, hours later, after they had tested negative for the virus.
Several city residents said they were notified on Tuesday that they or their children could not go to work or school if they had visited Disney since Thursday and were ordered to take daily tests for the next three days.
One said she was informed that her family might have to go into central quarantine. Marvis He was among Disney visitors caught up in the resort’s lockdown, having flown in from Shenzhen in hopes of enjoying the park’s Halloween themed fireworks.
“I feel disappointed, we waited so long in the park … but we didn’t get to see anything and only got to get out at 10pm,” she said as she departed the resort.
“We were also cold and hungry,” her companion added.
City authorities said the resort was shut after a 31-year-old woman, who had visited the park among other places in recent days, tested positive for the virus.
While much of the world has started to open up, China has vowed to stick to its zero-tolerance approach to Covid with lockdowns and mass testing imposed when even a single case is found.
The policy has met with growing discontent from the public and businesses, and been blamed for contributing to weak growth.
“Covid-zero changes the calculus of doing business within China,” Michael Hart, president of the American Chamber of Commerce in China in Beijing, said.
“Interruption from Covid-zero does appear to be the number one concern for our members, and number two is probably the slowing economy, mostly caused by interruption from Covid-zero.”
Nomura estimated lockdowns and restrictions in 28 cities last week, affecting almost 208 million people, or 8.5% of China‘s GDP.
Foxconn Boosts Pay Fourfold
Foxconn has been one of the biggest corporate names affected by a quasi-lockdown of Zhengzhou, a major logistics hub in central China.
The company put its 200,000 workers at its plant in the city under closed-loop management on October 13, triggering complaints from employees about food and their treatment and prompting many to leave.
In recent days, videos appearing to show departing Foxconn workers laden with luggage and walking along village roads towards their home towns have gone viral on Chinese social media. And workers have shared similar accounts.
A source said on Monday the production of iPhones at the plant could slump by as much as 30% next month due to the situation. Foxconn on Tuesday announced it would quadruple daily bonuses for some of the plant’s workers to 400 yuan ($55) should they continue to work there through November.
Zhengzhou unexpectedly lifted its quasi-lockdown on its nearly 13 million people, even as new locally transmitted cases more than doubled on Monday from the day before.
“For over 10 days, we have persevered and fought together, fighting the disease, advancing and retreating together, and working hard together, and finally we are ushering in a large-scale restoration of normal life and production in Zhengzhou,” the city’s counter-epidemic task-force wrote in an online letter to residents.
The current outbreak in Zhengzhou, the capital of Henan province, flared up after the October 1-7 National Day holidays, prompting local authorities to start imposing the lockdown of various districts.
- Reuters with additional editing by Jim Pollard
NOTE: The headline and details on this report were amended on November 1, 2022 to correct the size of the Foxconn pay increase.