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China ramps up anti-Covid measures in major cities as infections surge

China ramps up anti-Covid measures in major cities as infections surge
  • China reported 2,089 new domestic cases on October 10
  • Shanghai ramps up routine testing on its 25 million residents
  • China warns of risks of any large-scale recovery

BEIJING, Oct 11 (Reuters) – Shanghai and other large Chinese cities, including Shenzhen, have ramped up testing for the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) as infections surge, with some local authorities hastily shutting schools, entertainment venues and tourist sites.

Infections rose to their highest levels since August, with a spike coming after an increase in domestic travel during the national holiday “Golden Week” earlier this month.

Authorities reported 2,089 new local infections on October 10, the most since August 20.

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While many cases have been found in tourist destinations, including scenic spots in the northern region of Inner Mongolia, major cities that are often a source of well-traveled tourists began reporting more cases this week.

Shanghai, the city of 25 million, reported 28 localized cases on October 10, the fourth day of a double-digit increase.

Keen to avoid a repeat of the economic and psychological shutdown in April and May, Shanghai said late Monday that all of its 16 provinces will conduct mass testing at least twice a week until November 10, an increase from once a week. System imposed after the last shutdown.

The authorities said that screening procedures for incoming travelers and in places such as hotels should also be strengthened.

The widening web of measures has already entrapped some.

Peter Lee, a longtime British expat, was out for lunch with his wife and seven-year-old son last week when he was notified that his apartment would be closed.

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Then, Lee and his son checked into a hotel, which was also soon closed, due to a previous visit by a virus carrier. Li’s wife, who was planning to join them, had no choice but to go home to lock up.

“We might say we miss home, we miss my mom a lot, and we might go home and just deal with it,” Lee told Reuters.

“We’re monitoring the situation because Shanghai seems to be gradually closing anyway, and if everything starts to shut down, there won’t be much point in being able to come and go.”

‘The final price’

As of Monday, 36 Chinese cities were under various degrees of lockdown or control, affecting about 196.9 million people, up from 179.7 million the previous week, according to Nomura.

In Shenzhen, the technology hub in southern China, where the highly transmissible BF.7 Omicron variant emerged, local cases more than tripled to 33 on October 10 from the previous day.

Authorities in the city of 18 million people said Tuesday that incoming travelers will undergo three tests over a three-day period.

In the northwestern city of Xi’an, which reported just over 100 cases of infection from Oct. 1-10, authorities halted offline classes in schools and closed several public places including the famous Terracotta Warriors Museum.

Daily shuttle buses carrying tens of thousands of people to work in Beijing from nearby Tianjin and Hebei will be suspended from Wednesday due to the resurgence of COVID.

Despite the very small number of cases in China versus the rest of the world, and the impact that anti-epidemic policies are having on the economy and population, the government has repeatedly urged people to accept these measures.

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“Once there is a large-scale recovery, the epidemic will spread, and it will certainly have a serious impact on economic and social development, the final price will be higher and the losses will be greater,” the state-controlled People’s Daily wrote in the state-controlled People’s Daily. Comment on Tuesday.

The coronavirus precautionary steps come days before the Communist Party congress that begins on October 16 at which Xi Jinping is expected to extend his leadership. Read more

“The recent emergence of severe restrictions related to the Covid-19 virus is likely to be temporary given the priority to keep things under control before the very important meeting,” said analysts from US alternative asset manager Clocktower Group.

“However, the tripling in the People’s Daily on the COVID-19 zero narrative is already a major concern, indicating that a major policy reassessment may still be a long way off.”

(This story has been paraphrased to restore the word dropped in paragraph 6.)

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Additional reporting by Ryan Wu, Casey Hall and Jason Zew; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.