WDue to an increase in corona infections in Beijing, the population in large parts of the Chinese capital has been asked to stay at home at the weekend. Many restaurants and shops remained closed on Saturday. The day before, around 500 new infections were found among the 21 million residents. Nationwide there were more than 24,000.
The outbreaks in several metropolises such as Guangzhou, Beijing, Shanghai and Chongqing have reached the highest number of infections in the past few weeks since the two-month lockdown in Shanghai six months ago. However, instead of imposing restrictions in general, the authorities are starting to “shut down” specific neighborhoods or parts of town without big announcements.
Apparently, this is also intended to dampen the displeasure of the population. The closures of shops were partly caused by shopping centers themselves. In Beijing, the largest district in the east, Chaoyang, with 3.5 million inhabitants, was particularly hard hit. But similar restrictions were also reported from other parts of the city.
“Society should be shut down”
Supermarkets, pharmacies and markets remained open. However, a negative PCR test from the past 24 hours often had to be proven at the entrance – no longer from the past 48 hours, as is usually the case. Elementary and middle schools remained closed. “Society is to be shut down,” it said in a statement.
As the rest of the world tries to live with the virus, China continues to implement a strict zero-Covid strategy of lockdowns, mass daily testing, strict control, contact tracing and forced quarantine. Nevertheless, the number of new infections has increased sharply because new omicron variants spread more easily.
Last week, Beijing University was put into lockdown after a single case of coronavirus was discovered. Students and faculty are not allowed to leave campus. The hard-hit metropolis of Guangzhou in southern China wants to increase its quarantine capacity by a quarter of a million places.
While measures are being implemented in a more targeted manner and are also being tightened up, the situation has become confusing. Some cities are testing more frequently, but the 15-million metropolis of Shijiazhuang in Hebei Province, not far from Beijing, has started to no longer require mandatory PCR tests, but only for targeted groups. Municipalities are increasingly suffering from the increasing cost burden of the tests.