China’s capital, Beijing, began mass testing more than three million people on Monday and restricted residents to their premises in one part of the city, raising concerns about a widespread Shanghai-style lockdown.
While the city of more than 21 million has only found 70 cases since a new outbreak emerged on Friday, officials took strict measures as part of China’s “zero-Covid” approach to prevent further spread of the virus. Huh.
Some residents worked from home and many stocked up on food as protection against the possibility that they might be confined indoors, as has happened in many cities, including the financial center of Shanghai. The city of Anyang in central China and Dandong on the border with North Korea also began a lockdown as the Omicron version spread across the country.
Shanghai, which has been locked down for more than two weeks, has reported more than 19,000 new infections and 51 deaths in the latest 24-hour period, taking the death toll from the ongoing outbreak to 138.
Long lines formed at supermarkets in central Beijing. Shoppers plucked rice, noodles, vegetables and other food items, while shop workers hastily restocked some empty shelves. Releasing the report, state media said that despite the spurt in procurement, supplies remained plentiful.
Buyers looked worried but did not panic. A woman carrying vegetables, eggs and two bags of frozen dumplings said she was buying a little more than usual. One man said he is not worried but is getting alert as he has a two-year-old daughter.
Beijing’s health officials said 29 new cases had been identified in the 24 hours to 4 p.m. Monday, bringing the total to 70 since Friday.
Millions need to be tested
The city has largely ordered mass testing in Chaoyang district, where 46 cases have been found. Chaoyang’s 3.5 million residents as well as people working in the district are to be tested on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Test sites were set up overnight and early in the morning in residential complexes and office buildings around the district.
“I think Beijing should be fine,” said Gao Haiyang as he waited in line for a COVID-19 test. “Based on the previous response by my community, if there is an emergency, I think supplies can be guaranteed. Plus we have learned lessons from other cities. I think we can prepare well. can.”
Shanghai has leaned under a strict lockdown that has prompted residents to band together to distribute food through group purchases. Goods have been backed up at the port of Shanghai, affecting supplies and factory production and crippling economic growth.
Beijing has locked down residents in an area of about two by three kilometres, asking them to work from home and stay in their residential premises. It was not a total lockdown – shops continued to operate – but cinemas, karaoke bars and other entertainment venues were ordered to close.
Elsewhere, the city also closed some or all buildings in five residential complexes, adding to others that were closed on Sunday.