Beijing closes more venues as anger grows over Shanghai’s COVID lockdown by Reuters

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©Reuters. Medical workers in protective suits collect swabs from residents at a makeshift nucleic acid testing site amid the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Beijing, China April 29, 2022. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

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By Ryan Woo and Brenda Goh

BEIJING/SHANGHAI (Reuters) – China’s capital Beijing closed more gyms, malls, cinemas and apartment blocks on Friday, with authorities stepping up contact tracing to contain a COVID-19 outbreak amid resentment over Shanghai’s draconian month-long lockdown gain weight.

In the financial hub, people fenced off in different districts have been protesting the lockdown and difficulties in getting groceries by banging on pots and pans in the evening, according to a Reuters witness and local residents.

A video shared on social media, the authenticity of which could not be immediately verified, showed a woman using a bullhorn to warn people not to do so, saying such gestures are encouraged by “outsiders”.

The Shanghai government did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In the capital, Chaoyang District, which became the first to undergo mass testing this week, launched the latest of three rounds of screening among its 3.5 million residents on Friday. Most of the other counties line up for their third round of testing on Saturday.

Chaoyang, which accounts for the largest proportion of cases in Beijing’s current outbreak, stepped up measures to contain transmission as it declared more neighborhoods at risk.

People who had recently visited venues in such areas received text messages urging them to remain in place until they received their test results.

“Hello citizens! They recently visited the Guanghui Li Township Beef Noodle and Braised Chicken Shop,” read one such text. “Please report to your premises or hotel immediately, stay there and wait for the nucleic acid test notification.”

“If you violate the above requirements and cause the spread of the epidemic, bear legal responsibility.”

At testing sites, staff wearing blue aprons urged people queuing for tests to observe a 2-metre social distancing rule, as megaphones reminded crowds to put on their masks.

More apartment blocks were sealed and certain spas, KTV lounges, gyms, movie theaters and libraries and at least two shopping malls closed on Friday, while couriers and food delivery workers were denied entry to some condominiums.

Companies like JD (NASDAQ:).com, an e-commerce platform, have struggled to serve residents well.

The head of one of its logistics centers on the outskirts of Beijing, 32-year-old Ming Tang, said delivery volumes have increased by 65% ​​since the first cases appeared on April 22, and 80% of packages are food-related.

“The hassle of getting packages delivered on time and the long working hours put a lot of pressure on our couriers,” he said.

Beijing reported 49 cases on April 28, up from 50 the previous day.

WAITING TO LEAVE

Shanghai reported 52 new COVID-19 deaths on April 28, up from 47 the day before, the local government said on Friday. On April 28, 9,545 new asymptomatic cases were registered, up from 9,330 the day before, while symptomatic cases increased from 1,292 to 5,487.

While some delivery bottlenecks have been reduced in the city, criticism of the government, especially on the issue of state food supplies, continues to grow. Residents in some counties complain that their rations were scarcer than others and are taking to social media to compare supplies.

The lockdown is driving scores of foreign residents to flee mainland China’s most cosmopolitan city.

While no official departure statistics are available in recent weeks, pet carriers, real estate agents and law firms say they are seeing a sharp rise in inquiries, while online groups exchanging departure advice have grown.

“Up until the lockdown, I really couldn’t feel the authoritarian government because you’re more or less free to do what you want and I’ve never really lived oppressed,” said Jennifer Li, a foreigner who plans to join her family leave the city that has been their home for 11 years.

https://www.investing.com/news/economy/beijing-closes-more-venues-as-anger-at-shanghais-covid-lockdown-grows-2813619 Beijing closes more venues as anger grows over Shanghai’s COVID lockdown by Reuters

Chris Barrese

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