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Softer Covid Lockdowns Imposed in More Chinese Cities

Less harsh lockdowns seem to be the preferred strategy in many areas – that reducing ‘unnecessary’ movement for a few days is the best way to halt an outbreak and not kill the economy

Officials man a Covid barrier near a housing enclave in Sanya during the Covid lockdown.
A delivery courier places food near a barricade at an entrance to a residential compound, amid lockdown measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus in Sanya, Hainan island, on August 8, 2022. China Daily via Reuters.


Short lockdowns were imposed in a handful of Chinese cities on Thursday in the country’s east and west to restrict the movement of citizens and contain potential Covid outbreaks.

Shorter and softer lockdowns appears to be the new strategy preferred by officials in many areas, who hope that reducing people’s movement for a few days – as soon as a few dozen cases are found – is a better response to halt an outbreak under the country’s contentious zero Covid policy.

The aim is to avoid the prolonged lockdowns seen in Shanghai and Wuhan that turned into economic nightmares.

Uncertainty over how long such smaller lockdowns may last – because Omicron’s high transmissibility makes it harder to clear infections – has hurt business confidence and made people less willing to travel.

The eastern export and manufacturing hub Yiwu said on Thursday it would enter three days of “silent management”, with most of its residents banned from leaving designated areas and some confined to their homes.

Yiwu’s 1.9 million people joined millions of others across several cities whose movements are restricted largely to their residential compounds, unless they have to go out for matters such as Covid tests, grocery shopping or hospital visits.

Companies whose employees can work on closed campuses are still allowed to operate, while all public venues in Yiwu were to be closed during the three days, excluding hospitals and other places offering essential services.

In China’s western region of Xinjiang, three cities in the Aksu area from Thursday allowed employees to leave their homes for work while restricting everyone else to necessary movements only. It is not clear when the measures will be lifted.

Key districts in Xinjiang’s capital Urumqi, meanwhile, have been in a five-day lockdown starting on Wednesday.

Clusters in the tourism hotspots Hainan and Tibet continued to expand, with affected cities under lockdowns.

Mainland China reported 1,993 domestically transmitted new coronavirus cases for Wednesday August 10 – 614 symptomatic and 1,379 asymptomatic – the National Health Commission said on Thursday.

There were no new deaths, keeping fatalities at 5,226. China has confirmed 232,809 cases with symptoms as of August 10, including local transmitted ones and those among arrivals.

China’s capital Beijing reported two local cases for the previous day, while financial hub Shanghai and southern technology hub Shenzhen reported zero new local infections.


  • Reuters with additional editing by Jim Pollard

NOTE: The headline on this report was changed on August 11, 2022.



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Jim Pollard

Jim Pollard is an Australian journalist based in Thailand since 1999. He worked for News Ltd papers in Sydney, Perth, London and Melbourne before travelling through SE Asia in the late 90s. He was a senior editor at The Nation for 17+ years and has a family in Bangkok.


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