Shanghai reported nearly 25,000 locally transmitted COVID-19 infections yesterday, as residents of China’s most populous city voiced complaints over food and basic supplies, and concern spread that more cities might soon be in the same situation.
Streets of the locked-down financial hub of 26 million people remained as curbs under the city’s “zero tolerance” policy allow only healthcare workers, volunteers, delivery personnel or those with special permission to go out.
Shanghai’s case numbers are small compared to some cities globally, but it is battling China’s worst COVID-19 outbreak since the virus emerged in the central city of Wuhan in 2019.
Of the local cases Shanghai reported, 1,006 were symptomatic while 23,937 were classed as asymptomatic.
The city has become a test bed for China’s elimination strategy, which seeks to test, trace and centrally quarantine all people who test positive for the virus to stem its spread.
The curbs have sharply squeezed supplies of food and other essentials. Many supermarkets have been shut and thousands of couriers locked in. Access to medical care has also been a concern.
Online videos show residents struggling with security personnel and hazmat-suited medical staff at some compounds in recent days, with occupants shouting that they need food.
Executives for e-commerce giants JD.com and food delivery service Ele.me attended the city’s daily briefing, seeking to convince residents that bottlenecks would soon ease.
JD.com vice president Wang Wenbo (王文博) said he understands concerns about delivery speed and that the company is focusing on basic foodstuffs and baby care items.
Ele.me senior vice president Xiao Shuixian (肖水賢) said his company had brought in 2,800 more delivery workers over the past week.
Social media users in several other cities expressed anxiety that their cities might also go into lockdown, with screenshots shared of maps showing various highways closed across the country.
Many of the closures could be due to local governments implementing their own measures.
The Chinese Ministry of Transport on Saturday said it met with other government departments to work on standardizing highway pandemic checkpoints as restrictions at the local level were causing congestion for critical supplies.
An unverified video circulating on social media appeared to show trucks departing Shanghai being scanned with hand-held detectors to ensure that no one was trying to leave the city hidden inside.
Beijing’s municipal government placed a high-risk area under lockdown on Saturday after eight COVID-19 cases were confirmed in the past two weeks, Beijing Center for Disease Prevention and Control deputy director Pang Xinghuo (龐星火) said.
Guangzhou, home to more than 18 million people, said on Saturday that it would begin testing across its 11 districts after cases were reported on Friday.
Ningbo, a key port city near Shanghai, said yesterday it was closing all indoor dining at restaurants and hotels, and that people who had been in confined spaces would undergo daily testing for three days.
Social media users in Shanghai posted recommendations for people in other cities in case of lockdown, saying to stock up with basic cooking equipment, seasonings and staple dried foods such as rice and pasta.
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