Covid in China: “panic” purchases and massive tests in Beijing due to the rebound in cases and the fear of a new confinement


Mass covid testing and long lines at supermarkets.

Beijing, the capital of China, registers a increase in cases of the virus and have already started close some developments to prevent its spread.

In the weekend alone, the Chaoyang district, the most populous in the capital and home to everything from embassies to corporate skyscrapers, has reported 26 cases, the highest number so far in this latest wave. Those who live or work in the area have been required to take three tests of nucleic acid during this week.

And even though the government has offered guarantees that there will be enough foodpeople have rushed to stores in search of provisions.

Fears are in the air that Beijing could face a situation similar to that in Shanghai, which has been under strict confinement for several weeks now.

People in Beijing fear that the lockdowns will be similar to those in Shanghai.

For now, the arrival of tourists to the capital has been suspended starting this Monday and travel agencies have been required to reimburse the amount of travel packages.

Neither meat, nor eggs nor shrimps

The greatest fears are concentrated in Chaoyang due to the warning from the city’s disease prevention team of the massive rounds of tests to which its inhabitants must undergo.

The news made the residents rushed to stock up on essential supplies. The images that began to circulate in the local media showed empty supermarket shelves and long queues at checkout counters.

Given the increase in demand, the Beijing’s major supermarkets have extended their opening hours.

“People in Beijing are seeing the lockdowns in Shanghai, the lack of food and medicine. And although it is not known if Beijing will have similar measures, people are getting nervous given the experience of what has happened, ”says the BBC correspondent in China, Stephen McDonell.

Some people in lockdown areas of Shanghai say they are having difficulty accessing food supplies and have been forced to wait for the government to deliver vegetables, meat and eggs.

“I never thought I would go to the market so early in the morning… When arrive, all the eggs and shrimp were gone and all the meat had been looted“said a user of Weibo – a social network used in China -, in Shanghai, before adding that he managed to get some vegetables.

Another Weibo user in Shanghai said: “Seeing people in Beijing rushing to buy food is funny and distressing. It’s seeing what my own life was like last month.”

State-run news outlet The Global Times said Beijing’s fresh food companies have been ordered to increase the supply of groceries such as meat, poultry eggs and vegetables.

They also quoted health experts as saying the results of the mass tests would indicate whether further steps need to be taken, such as locking down several areas of the capital.

Separately, Pang Xinghuo, deputy director of the Beijing Center for Disease Control and Prevention, told state-run media China Daily that It is expected that the number of cases in Beijing increase in the next few days.

The latest outbreak in Shanghai, first detected in late March, has recorded more than 400,000 cases so far and 138 deaths.

Electronic alarms and forced evacuations

Some of the measures Chinese authorities have implemented in Shanghai include putting electronic alarms on the doors to prevent the infected from leaving and forcibly evacuating people from their homes to carry out disinfection procedures.

People crowd outside a supermarket in Beijing to get food

Getty Images
China’s zero covid strategy was effective at first, but not with the latest variants.

The latest controversy in Shanghai is that, during the night and without prior notice, huge green fences, about two meters high, have appeared in some urbanizations, to prevent residents from leaving their homes.

Social networks collected this weekend images of confined people who criticized from the balcony the workers who, clad in white protective suits, erected these fences and protested against the hypothesis that, if a fire broke out, they would not be able to leave their homes in any way.

Some of these fences were erected in residential complexes in which positives have been detected and the reason, according to the municipal authorities, is that some areas must activate a “hard confinement” and prevent people from leaving at all costs and thus avoid new infections. .

Unlike many other countries, China is following a zero covid strategy with the aim of eradicating the virus from the country completely. At this time, the total number of active symptomatic infections in mainland China stands at 29,178.

While officials managed to keep infection levels relatively low at the start of the pandemic, subsequent lockdowns have not fully contained recent and more transmissible variants of the virus.

The official press acknowledges that “China has witnessed a prominent increase in outbreaks across the country”with more than 500,000 infections since March, despite which the country must “insist on the ‘covid zero’ policy and guarantee the health of the population to the greatest extent possible.”

According to the Global Times newspaper today, “we must act” and “be as fast as possible” to prevent the spread of the virus, something that, the newspaper highlights, cities like Canton achieved after detecting their first cases.

“A total lockdown can only be put in place when the spread is at an advanced stage or if it is detected early but not decisively controlled. We must be incisive and identify the sources of infection in time to avoid spikes, ”says the newspaper.

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