the authorities of Shanghai tightened confinement due to Covid-19 imposed on the city more than a month ago, prolonging until the end of May an experience that the Chinese capital, Beijing, desperately wants to avoid.
Shanghai, a commercial hub of 25 million people, is making a new move to reduce the number of coronavirus cases to zero outside areas facing tighter restrictions by the second half of May, people familiar with the matter told Reuters.
According to the sources, mobility restrictions will remain in place for the month due to fears of a return, although the number of cases is falling. Authorities in some districts have issued notices ordering people to return to their residential complex after letting them out for brief walks or quick shopping.
In a video widely shared on Chinese social media, police in protective suits argued with residents who were told they would need to be quarantined after a neighbor tested positive for the disease.
“This is so we can completely remove any positive cases,” one of the officers can be heard saying. “Stop asking me why, there’s no why. We have to adhere to national guidelines.”
Reuters was unable to independently verify the video. The Shanghai government did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Prolonged isolation and fears of people being sent to quarantine centers, which sometimes lack showers and other basic hygiene conditions, have caused widespread frustration and even fights.
Tough Covid-19 restrictions in Beijing, Shanghai and dozens of other major Chinese cities are psychologically taking a toll on their population, weighing on the world’s second-largest economy and disrupting global supply chains and international trade.
The measures mark a sharp contrast to those seen in most parts of the world, which are relaxing or removing Covid-19 restrictions to live with the virus even as infections spread.
Beijing has closed gyms and entertainment venues, banned restaurant dining services and disrupted dozens of bus routes and nearly 15% of its sprawling subway system, as many residents voluntarily avoid leaving.
“It’s very strange,” said a 50-year-old Beijing resident surnamed Ding, as he snapped a picture of an empty street leading to a closed subway station. “It’s the first time in all my years in Beijing that I’ve seen empty streets in the middle of summer. It’s magical.”
Businesses that have remained open aren’t serving many customers as people don’t want to do anything that could bring them closer to others infected and force them into quarantine.
Copyright © Thomson Reuters.