BEIJING (AP) – Authorities in Shanghai have tightened anti-virus restrictions again just as the city exited a month of strict lockdown due to a COVID-19 outbreak.
Notices issued in several districts said residents have been ordered to stay home and are not allowed to receive non-essential supplies as part of a “quiet period” that lasts at least through Wednesday. The tightened measures could be extended depending on the results of the mass tests, the releases said.
“Thank you for your understanding and cooperation. Together we can lift the lockdown early,” said a statement issued in Huangpu District and posted online.
It was not clear what prompted the renewed tightening as the number of new COVID-19 cases in the city continued to fall.
Shanghai on Monday reported 3,947 cases over the past 24 hours, almost all asymptomatic, along with 11 deaths. Authorities have gradually lifted isolation rules for the city’s 25 million residents, but the new orders appear to be returning to conditions seen in the early stages of the outbreak.
Shanghai originally ordered mass testing along with a limited lockdown, but extended it as case numbers rose. Thousands of residents have been forced into central quarantine centers for testing positive or simply being in contact with an infected person.
Two Shanghai residents reached through social media said they had not received prior notification of the new restrictions, which they were told could last up to a week.
“We are unprepared,” said Zhang Chen, a researcher at a technology company. “I packed my bags and thought it was my turn next” to be taken to a quarantine facility.
“I don’t know what will happen in May, but I think I will need psychological help after the lockdown,” Zhang said.
A marketer in western Pudong District said the quality of life has fallen, although the cost of living continues to rise under the lockdown.
“They keep saying the lockdown will be eased after a few days, but there seems to be no end,” said the woman, who asked to be identified by her surname Lu to avoid repercussions from authorities. who have cracked down heavily on opposition.
“All aspects of the work are affected. I don’t know when it will be time for the lockdown to end,” Lu said.
In Beijing, authorities shut down the largest borough, with residents told to stay home and shops closed. Beijing has ordered daily testing of all residents, closed parks and other recreational facilities, and restricted restaurants to takeout only.
The normally bustling Sanlitun area, crammed with restaurants, boutiques, and an Apple Store, was all but deserted. Still, retiree Yang Xiaochang said Beijing appears far better prepared to weather the surge than its southern cousin.
“Even though there was some panic buying at the beginning…Beijing will not be like that,” Yang said, referring to Shanghai.
Still, businesses and investors fear the ruling Communist Party’s “zero-COVID” strategy, which has shut down most businesses in Shanghai and other industrial hubs, will disrupt global trade and activity in automotive, electronics and other industries.
China’s export growth collapsed in April as global demand weakened, putting pressure on the world’s second largest economy.
Exports rose 3.7% year on year to $273.6 billion, a sharp decline from March’s 15.7% growth, tariffs data showed on Monday. Imports rose 0.7% to $222.5 billion on weak Chinese demand, in line with the previous month’s growth of under 1%.
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