Beijing/Shanghai, Apr 28 (EFE).- Beijing residents were increasingly fearful of a lockdown being imposed Thursday following the detection of 50 new cases of Covid-19, while Shanghai started a tentative reopening of business after a strict shutdown that lasted over a month.
Authorities in China’s capital extended a targeted lockdown to two new areas of Chaoyang district, and suspended classes in all schools in the district, which is home to over 3 million people.
Some 20 million of Beijing’s 23 million residents must complete three rounds of PCR testing this week as part of an operation to detect and isolate positive Covid cases to avoid widespread community transmission of the virus.
Amid the threat of a Shanghai-style lockdown, residents of Beijing started stockpiling goods and groceries, although the panic buying has since tailed off.
The supply of fresh produce and food remains stable and authorities have urged the population to refrain from stockpiling.
Since the first Covid infection was detected on April 22, 142 cases have been recorded in 10 districts of the capital, 80 of them in Chaoyang.
Several temporary control zones have been set-up where residents can leave their homes but not the quarantined area.
Essential services and businesses continue to operate, but restaurants, cafes, cinemas, libraries, gyms and other public spaces have closed.
Meanwhile, in the East coast megacity of Shanghai, which has been under a stringent lockdown since late March, the latest rounds of mass testing have sparked optimism as new caseloads dropped for the fifth consecutive day.
Since March 1, the 25 million-strong business hub has accrued 544,000 infections, 10,600 of which were recorded Wednesday.
According to Hong Kong newspaper South China Morning Post, Shanghai authorities are preparing guidelines for the reopening of public transport and shops while trying to reactivate the vaccination campaign among older people.
Of the 5.8 million residents aged over 60, almost 38% have not been vaccinated or fully boostered.
The Ministry of Commerce’s spokesperson, Gao Feng, told reporters Thursday that the local government was preparing a list of companies that will be green-flagged to partially resume activities.
The initial list, published on April 15, included 666 companies from various sectors, including semiconductors, automotive, equipment manufacturing and pharmaceuticals.
According to Gao, 247 (37%) are foreign, and he name-dropped “key” businesses Volkswagen and Tesla. Of the 15,000 workers employed by foreign companies, 8,000 have already returned to work.
Gao said more foreign companies had asked to be included in the next batch of authorizations, but the spokesperson said resuming operations in factories still presented operational problems.
The official Global Times newspaper recently reported that the rate of resumption among employees of authorized companies was still below 50% due to other factors such as the lack of basic resources, logistical blockages and the fact many workers were still confined in their apartment complexes. EFE