Shanghai is back on Covid-19 alert – just over a week after emerging from a two-month lockdown – as China’s economic capital expanded movement curbs and announced mass testing for most of the city’s 25 million residents.
In moves that have upset residents and business people, authorities on Friday ordered testing for all residents in 14 of commercial centre’s 16 districts over the weekend after new coronavirus cases were found in the community.
Some districts said residents would not be allowed to leave their homes while testing was carried out. A notice issued by Changning district described the stay at home requirement as “closed management” of the community being sampled.
The reactions of people on China’s Twitter-like Weibo platform were a mixture of surprise and concern, with some asking how their plans for the weekend, such as moving house or seeing a doctor, would be affected. Many expressed fear they could be locked down again.
The move comes on top of already onerous testing requirements introduced for residents after easing a city-wide lockdown on June 1.
Residents need to prove that they have been tested within the last 72 hours to enter areas like malls and offices – or even to use subways and buses.
Many people have become frustrated about having to queue for hours to be tested at the thousands of booths scattered around the city.
Some parts of Shanghai had remained under or returned to lockdown shortly after June 1 due to positive cases and their close contacts. Three of the latest infections that led to several closures were traced to a popular beauty salon in the city centre.
Entertainment Venues Shut in Beijing
Meanwhile, Beijing shut entertainment and internet venues in two of the capital’s largest districts after tracing cases to a few bars.
While China’s infection rate is low by global standards, President Xi Jinping has doubled down on a zero-Covid policy that authorities say is needed to protect the elderly and the medical system, even as other countries try to live with the virus.
Mainland China reported 151 new coronavirus cases for June 9, of which 45 were symptomatic and 106 were asymptomatic, the National Health Commission said on Friday.
‘Plagued by Uncertainty’
Shanghai’s earlier two-month lockdown fuelled widespread frustration, anger and even rare protests among its residents, as they grappled with lost incomes, the loss of freedom, the death of friends and relatives, and even hunger.
It also battered the Chinese economy, disrupted supply chains and slowed international trade, and the latest uncertainty has hit sentiment in financial markets.
The European Chamber of Commerce said offices belonging to its members were only operating at 30-50% capacity while factories were running at above 80%.
Bettina Schoen-Behanzin, Vice President of the European Chamber said European companies were becoming more cautious and rethinking future investments in China.
“We are still plagued by uncertainty with localised lockdowns, Schoen-Behanzin said. “Even if we go on from living in a bubble to living on a bubble, it is still a bubble that may burst at any minute.”
Tests in Seven New Districts
With new Shanghai cases emerging among beauty salons in the city, officials said those venues would be investigated.
Wang Hongwei, the vice-governor of Xuhui district, said health inspectors were investigating the Red Rose and other salons to find out if prevention was implemented.
“The preliminary investigation found that some employees of the beauty salon did not carry out daily nucleic acid testing as required,” he said.
Zhao Dandan, deputy director of the Shanghai Municipal Health Commission, said the past week had also seen new cases in Huangpu and Jing’an districts, making the case for a lockdown.
“There are high-risk areas in these districts, and there are many older communities with high population density and public kitchens and bathrooms.”
Minhang district, with a population of more than 2 million, is already under restrictions and faces another round of testing.
- Reuters with additional editing by George Russell and Jim Pollard
This report was updated with new details and the headline modified on June 10, 2022.