Wuhan lockdown 1million residents as echo of pandemic start

Nearly 1 million people have been locked down in a district on the outskirts of Wuhan, the first time since 2020 that the Chinese city, which has experienced the world’s first COVID-19 lockdown, has imposed such a measure, underscoring how far the country is from away from a post-pandemic is normality.

More than two years since Wuhan went into lockdown to contain a then-mysterious pneumonia, residents of Jiangxia district have been told to stay indoors and not go out unless necessary. Public transport has been halted and entertainment venues closed for three days after four asymptomatic cases were identified in the district on Tuesday.

Workers in PPE overalls guard an entrance to a cordoned-off community in Beijing in March.

Workers in PPE overalls guard an entrance to a cordoned-off community in Beijing in March.Recognition:AP

While restrictions have so far been limited to just one borough, the move is likely to raise concerns about widening curbs. Life in the pandemic-ravaged city of 11 million had largely returned to normal since its initial lockdown in 2020 – which set a precedent for how Chinese authorities would deal with flare-ups elsewhere in the country – with a small outbreak in April and a handful of cases in the past month.

China is sticking to its COVID-Zero strategy of lockdowns, restrictions on movement and mass testing, albeit being challenged like never before, with more contagious variants circumventing the strictest restrictions. The country reported 604 local cases for Tuesday, up from 868 the day before.

Attention is also turning to the southern manufacturing hub of Shenzhen, which reported 4 new cases taking the tally to more than 150 since July 19. The flare-up led to some of China’s biggest companies being ordered to operate cases in a “closed loop” for seven days, raising concerns about global supply chain disruptions.

The fish market in Wuhan is linked to the outbreak of the coronavirus.

The fish market in Wuhan is linked to the outbreak of the coronavirus.Recognition:Getty Images

The city government has asked its top 100 companies, including iPhone maker Foxconn and oil producer Cnooc, to limit operations to only employees living in a closed circuit or bubble and little to no contact with people outside their plants or have offices. Authorities also urged companies to reduce unnecessary interactions between non-production staff and factory floors to reduce infections.

Officials in Shenzhen said the outbreak is under control, with most cases being isolated early and promptly, although they still expected to find new infections. The outbreak is linked to cross-border cases, Health Commission official Lin Hancheng said, without giving further details.

Shenzhen police said last week they arrested 82 people, 19 of whom were drivers delivering supplies between Shenzhen and Hong Kong, for smuggling goods and violating epidemic prevention laws. Authorities said they would strictly enforce the closed-loop system for drivers who are not supposed to be in contact with the outside world while at work.

https://www.smh.com.au/world/asia/wuhan-locks-down-1-million-residents-in-echo-of-pandemic-start-20220727-p5b555.html?ref=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss_world Wuhan lockdown 1million residents as echo of pandemic start

Joel McCord

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