- Beijing has closed more gyms, malls and cinemas to contain the outbreak
- Delivery companies are working overtime to supply residents
- Health official ‘It is the virus that is hurting the economy’
BEIJING/SHANGHAI (Reuters) – The Chinese capital, Beijing, shut down more businesses and apartment complexes on Friday as authorities ramped up contact tracing to contain the outbreak of COVID-19, while discontent over the month-long shutdown grew in Shanghai.
In the financial center, fenced-in people protested the lockdown and difficulties getting supplies by knocking on pots and pans in the evening, according to a Reuters witness and residents.
A video circulated on social media, whose authenticity could not be immediately verified, showed a woman warning people over a loud megaphone not to do so, saying that such gestures are encouraged by “strangers”.
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The Shanghai government did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In Beijing, authorities were in a race against time to detect COVID cases and isolate those around them.
A sign outside an apartment complex reads “Entry only. No exit.”
Polish resident Joanna Sklarska, 51, was sent to a quarantine hotel as a close contact, but she refused to share the room, which has only one bed, with her neighbour.
She was sent home, where authorities installed an alarm on the front door. Then she was called back to the hotel, where she now has her own room.
Nothing makes sense here,” the English counselor said over the phone.
At a regular news conference on Friday, Chinese health officials did not respond to questions about whether Beijing would come under lockdown or what circumstances might prompt such measures.
Chaoyang District, the first district to undergo mass testing this week, began the last of three rounds of screening on Friday among its 3.5 million residents. Most other regions are scheduled to hold the third round of testing on Saturday.
More apartment buildings were closed, preventing residents from leaving, and some spas, KTVs, gyms, movie theaters, libraries and at least two malls closed Friday.
Chaoyang District, which has the highest number of cases in Beijing, announced that more neighborhoods are at risk.
People who visited places in such areas recently received text messages telling them to stay in their places until they get their test results.
“Hello fellow citizens! I recently visited a beef and braised chicken noodle shop in Guanghui Li community,” one of the texts wrote. “Please inform your pool or hotel immediately, stay put and wait for the DNA test notification.”
“If you violate the above requirements and cause the epidemic to spread, you will be held legally responsible.”
Companies like JD.com, an e-commerce platform, are striving to provide a good supply to the residents.
The head of a logistics center on the outskirts of Beijing, 32-year-old Ming Tang, said delivery volumes have increased 65% since the first cases appeared on April 22, and 80% of parcels are related to food.
“The effort put into delivering packages on time and the long working hours put a lot of pressure on our postmen,” he said.
Beijing reported 49 cases on April 28, compared to 50 the day before, a far cry from Shanghai’s numbers.
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Chinese authorities say being free of the coronavirus is vital to saving as many lives as possible.
“We have to realize that the virus is what’s hurting the economy,” said Liang Wanyan, chair of the National Health Commission’s COVID Response Committee.
“The battle against the Covid epidemic is a war, a war of resistance, a people’s war,” Liang said.
In Shanghai, authorities said more people were gradually being allowed in principle to leave their homes recently. More than 12 million, nearly half of the population, are now in this category. Read more
However, many cannot leave their complexes, while those with few places to go such as shops and other places are closed. One of the 52,000 police mobilized for lockdown often asks them to go home.
Many residents grumbled about the police’s inflexibility, which sometimes does not take into account health emergencies or other individual circumstances.
“There are still many shortcomings in our work,” Xu Qing, head of the municipal public security bureau, told reporters.
“Some individual policemen don’t pay attention to tactics or tactics when enforcing the law, or are emotional or mechanical.”
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The report was submitted by Martin Quinn Pollard, Eduardo Baptista, David Stanway, Brenda Goh, Tony Munro, Roxanne Liu, Alby Zhang, Wang Yifan, and the Beijing and Shanghai offices; Written by Marius Zaharia. Lincoln Fest Editing.
Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
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