Tens of millions of people were under lockdown across China yesterday and businesses in a major tourist city were forced to close as fresh COVID-19 clusters sparked fears of wider restrictions.
Chinese health authorities have reported more than 300 infections in Xian, with new clusters found in Shanghai, Beijing and elsewhere.
The outbreaks and official response have dashed hopes that China would move away from the virus curbs seen earlier this year, when its “zero COVID-19” policy saw tens of millions of people forced to stay home for weeks.
In Shanghai, some social media users reported receiving government food rations — a throwback to the months-long confinement forced on the city’s residents earlier this year.
“I’m so nervous, the epidemic has destroyed my youth,” a Shanghai resident wrote on social media.
Officials launched a new round of mass testing in more than half of the city’s districts after a rebound in cases since the weekend. Karaoke bars were closed after some infections were linked to six venues.
“I think this is unnecessary and I don’t really want to do it,” Shanghai resident Alice Chan told reporters.
Chan said that she took part in the latest testing round over fears that her smartphone-stored health code, which is used to access public spaces, might otherwise flag her as an infection risk.
“I think the situation won’t improve in the short term,” said another resident, who gave his name as Yao. “People now aren’t really scared of COVID-19 anymore, they’re scared of being locked down in their homes.”
Japanese bank Nomura has estimated that at least 114 million people were under full or partial lockdowns nationwide as of Monday, a sharp jump from last week’s 66.7 million.
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