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Beijing Shuts More Facilities as Shanghai Expatriates Seek to Exit

There have been many reports of a sharp uptick in leaving queries, but the dynamic-zero policy is in line with pursuing economic progress, a senior health expert said

Shanghai lockdown
Shanghai reported 52 new Covid-19 deaths on Thursday, up from 47 a day earlier, the local government said on Friday. Photo: Reuters.


More facilities in Beijing were shut down on Friday – including gyms, malls, cinemas and blocks of flats – as officials stepped up measures to contain a spreading Covid-19 outbreak.

In Chaoyang district, the most populous and 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.

Chaoyang, accounting for the biggest share of cases in Beijing’s current outbreak, stepped up measures to curb transmissions as it declared more neighbourhoods to be at risk.

However, China’s “dynamic-zero” policy against Covid-19 is in line with pursuing economic progress, rather than in conflict with it, a senior health expert said on Friday.

The battle is an all-out “people’s war”, Liang Wannian, head of the Covid-19 response expert panel under the National Health Commission, said.


Text Messages Received

People who had recently visited many venues in Beijing 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 situation to spread, you will bear legal responsibility,” it added.

Beijing reported 47 new symptomatic and two new asymptomatic cases, state broadcaster CCTV reported. The city recorded 48 symptomatic cases and two asymptomatic ones a day earlier.

At test sites, staffers with blue aprons urged people queuing to be tested to observe a 2-metre social distancing rule as loud-hailers reminded crowds to keep their masks on.

More residential buildings and at least two shopping malls were sealed, while some spas, karaoke lounges, gyms, cinemas and libraries closed.

Couriers and food delivery staff were refused entry to some residential compounds. Companies such as JD.com, an e-commerce platform, have been striving to keep residents well supplied.


Shanghai Covid-19 Lockdown

Meanwhile, foreign residents are set to flee Shanghai’s commercial centre, according to pet movers, property agents and law firms, as the government’s heavy-handed Covid-19 lockdown dents the appeal of mainland China’s most cosmopolitan city.

Resentment at the month-long lockdown in Shanghai continued to grow among citizens and residents.

Fenced-in people in various districts 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.”

The Shanghai government did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


Online Chat Groups

While no official statistics are available for departures in recent weeks, there have been many reports of a sharp uptick in leaving queries, while online chat groups swapping advice on how to leave the city amid lockdown curbs have swelled.

“Normally we get about 30-40 cases a month but we got over 60 in April,” said Michael Faung, founder of international pet movers Shanghai M&D pet.

The city of 25 million is the China base for numerous multinational firms and long a magnet for expatriates lured by the international vibe of areas such as the French Concession, where boutiques and cafes line tree-shaded lanes.

Shanghai reported 52 new Covid-19 deaths on Thursday, up from 47 a day earlier, the local government said on Friday. The city also recorded 9,545 new asymptomatic cases, slightly more than the 9,330 a day earlier.

Confirmed symptomatic cases stood at 5,487, compared to 1,292 the previous day.


  • Reuters, with additional editing by George Russell




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George Russell

George Russell is a freelance writer and editor based in Hong Kong who has lived in Asia since 1996. His work has been published in the Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, New York Post, Variety, Forbes and the South China Morning Post.


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