China started its biggest COVID-19 lockdown in two years. On Monday, in order to conduct mass tests and stop the rising spread of coronavirus in Shanghai as many questions are raised regarding the economic impact of the country’s “zero-COVID” plan.
Shanghai is China’s financial capital and largest metropolis, with a population of 26 million people. It had previously dealt with minor epidemics by restricting access to housing compounds and businesses where the coronavirus was spreading.
However, the two-phased citywide lockdown will be China’s most extensive since the central city of Wuhan, where the virus was initially discovered in late 2019, confined its 11 million residents to their homes for 76 days in early 2020. Since then, millions more people have been under lockdown since the outbreak.
According to the local authorities, the Pudong financial district and surrounding areas in Shanghai will be closed from Monday to Friday while mass testing begins. The large area west of the Huangpu River was sealed off in the second phase of the lockdown.
Chinese Residents are expected to remain at home, as deliveries are made at checkpoints to ensure no interaction with outside sources. Businesses, offices, and any other establishments not considered essential will be shut down, and public transport will shut down.
Already, several communities in Shanghai have been in lockdown for the past week, with their housing areas sealed by yellow and blue plastic barriers. Residents are also must submit to numerous tests for COVID-19. The Shanghai Disneyland theme park business, a prominent business among other companies, was also shut down earlier. According to the media report, Tesla automobile company has also suspended production at its Shanghai plant.
On Sunday, panic product buying incidents were noticed with the supermarket shelves empty of drinks, food, and household goods. Extra barriers were set up in many areas, with staff in hazmat suits working security checkpoints.
On Tuesday, 5th April, the Tomb Sweeping Day Celebration has been canceled, and instead, memorials will be held online.
Some employees, particularly stock market traders, planned to remain within a COVID-19 “bubble” for the lockdown period.
Li Jiamin, 31, a finance professional, stated she had packed several days’ worth of clothing and other supplies, and her organization was working out food and sleeping arrangements.
“The overall impact remains amazing,” Li Jiamin shared with The Associated Press, particularly pointing to the losses incurred by staff in the informal sector who do not have such protection.
Huang Qi, 35, is a local university employee, stated he had previously experienced a lockdown at home and had prepared for the latest one by stockpiling up.
Huang stated, “I believe that if the closing continues, our school staff will not be much affected; however, what about the people working in the real economy? What can they do to ensure their businesses are sustained?” he added, “I am still hopeful that our society can achieve equilibrium between normal life and pandemic prevention and control.”
Shanghai found an additional 3,500 cases of coronavirus infection on Sunday; however, the few of those who had tested COVID-19 positive yet did not exhibit any symptoms associated with COVID-19. Although not symptomatic, people may still infect other people; China classifies such types of cases differently from “confirmed cases” – those who are sick.
In the entire country, 1,219 COVID-19 positive confirmed cases of domestic infection were reported on Sunday, over 1,000 of them being in the province of Jilin; around 4,996 asymptomatic coronavirus cases, The National Health Commission (NHM) said on Monday.
On 20th March, in Jilin, two deaths were reported. For a year, mainland China’s official death toll has remained at 4,636.
This month, China has reported over 56,000 COVID-19 positive confirmed cases across the country, with Jilin accounting for most confirmed cases.
The province of Jilin is enforcing partial lockdowns and travel bans in several cities, including Changchun, one of China’s auto manufacturing hubs. Even though the region has experienced more than 1,000 COVID-19 confirmed cases every day, control and prevention measures appear less stringent than in other areas.
Because of coronavirus infection, Jilin has started constructing prefabricated short-term wards to house COVID-19 patients under observation. Suzhou city, approximately an hour’s drive from Shanghai, Changsha in the central region of China, and Shenyang, located in the northeast region, are all building structures that can house over 6,000 residents.
Two gymnasiums, an exhibition hall, and other facilities in Shanghai have been adapted to host possibly COVID-19infected patients.
China’s long-standing “zero-tolerance” stance has been dubbed the most cost-efficient and successful COVID-19 preventive technique.
In a press release on Sunday, the city’s COVID-19 prevention and control office stated that the new measures are being implemented to “curb virus propagation, protect people’s lives and health, and reach the dynamic zero-COVID goal in the shortest time possible.”
The goal is to eliminate the spread of the virus within the community as fast as is feasible. It requires mass testing and lockdowns, with the close contacts are frequently being quarantined at their homes or in the government facility.
While some officials, like Xi Jinping, Communist Party leader, have advocated for more targeted actions, local officials typically have a more extreme view in fear of being dismissed or punished for allegedly failing to stop the spread of coronavirus infection.
Recently, Hunan province, seen a few cases, imposed sanctions on 19 government officials over “failure to effectively implement anti-pandemic strategies,” state broadcaster CCTV announced on Monday.
The Chinese economy is already slowing down; these drastic measures are viewed as increasing problems affecting employment, consumption, and supply chains across the globe. With a 21-day curfew now in the location for all foreigners coming from outside, travel within China and other nations have slowed drastically.
On Friday this week, The International Air Transport Association (IATA) declared that it would be shifting its annual general assembly in Doha from Shanghai about “continuing COVID-19 travel restrictions in China.”
“It is a huge disappointment that we cannot get together in Shanghai in the manner we had planned,” Willie Walsh, Director General of IATA, stated in a press announcement.
Nonetheless, Shanghai’s announcement of the dates for the two lockdowns’ lifting appeared to demonstrate a refinement in China’s strategy. Previous citywide lockdowns had been unconstrained periods.
Although China’s immunization coverage is nearly 87%, it is significantly lower among the elderly, who are more prone to become ill if infected with the coronavirus.
In Hong Kong, Carrie Lam, Chief Executive, stated the government was still reviewing future steps in response to the latest fifth wave of COVID-19 infections, which has led to more than a thousand instances and over 7,000 deaths.
Carrie Lam stated that no decision had been taken about the timing or frequency of testing all 7.4 million people living in the south Chinese semi-autonomous area.
“I do not have a timetable as of yet. It is difficult to predict the timetable, similarly to the extent that I am not certain of the speed at which the cases will go down,” Carrie Lam told news reporters during a briefing of coronavirus cases daily.