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Shanghai locks down as COVID surges in China's financial hub

Coronavirus Mar 29, 2022 03:29AM ET
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2/2 © Reuters. People line up near a nucleic acid testing site outside a hospital during mass testing for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) amid the COVID-19 pandemic, in Shanghai, China March 27, 2022. REUTERS/Aly Song 2/2

By Andrew Galbraith and David Stanway

SHANGHAI (Reuters) -China's financial hub of Shanghai launched a two-stage lockdown of its 26 million residents on Monday, closing bridges and tunnels and restricting highway traffic in a scramble to contain surging COVID-19 cases.

The snap lockdown, announced by the local government late on Sunday, will split China's most populous city roughly along the Huangpu River for nine days to allow for "staggered" testing by healthcare workers in white hazmat suits.

It is the biggest COVID-related disruption to hit Shanghai, and sent prices of commodities including oil and copper lower on fears that any further curbs could hurt demand in China, the world's second-largest economy.

Residents east of the Huangpu were confined to their homes. Some said healthcare workers arrived to conduct tests as early as 7 a.m. on Monday.

Those in the west rushed to stockpile food and other goods as they prepared for a similar fate from April 1. Delivery services were overwhelmed and supermarkets ran low on supplies. Several social media users posted images of what they had managed to buy.

"Many wholesale markets are now closed," Bi Yingwu, a 50-year old stallholder, said. "Some vendors are reluctant to buy in vegetables. If we cannot get vegetables from wholesalers or the wet market is closed, we are finished."

The curbs mark a turnaround for Shanghai's authorities, who as recently as Saturday denied the city would be locked down as it pursued a more piecemeal "slicing and gridding" approach to try to rein in infections.

Wu Fan, a member of Shanghai's expert COVID team, said recent mass testing had found "large scale" infections throughout the city, triggering the stronger response.

"Containing the large scale outbreak in our city is very important because, once infected people are put under control, we have blocked transmission," she told a briefing.

Infection and death numbers are low by global standards. But China has imposed a zero-COVID policy that has all but closed its borders to travellers for two years, and rushes to shut off every chain of infection.

Shanghai recorded a record 3,450 asymptomatic COVID cases on Sunday, accounting for nearly 70% of the nationwide total, along with 50 symptomatic cases.

RESTRICTIONS

Shanghai said earlier this month its daily testing capacity was around 3 million, but Chen Erzhen, a doctor in charge of a city quarantine facility, warned it still might not be enough to outpace the spread of the virus.

"When case numbers reach a certain level, the difficulty of relying upon previous staff deployments increases by a large degree," he told government newspaper Liberation Daily.

The new lockdown should at least ensure the "stillness" required to bring the outbreak under control, he added.

Wu had told a briefing on Saturday that Shanghai could not be locked down for long because of the important role it played in the national and even global economy.

But following Sunday's about-turn, mass testing disrupted transport, healthcare and a wide range of economic activities, with citywide land sales also halted on Monday.

Shanghai's Public Security Bureau said it was closing cross-river bridges and tunnels, and highway tollbooths concentrated in the city's east until April 1. However, ports and the city's two airports remained open.

Shanghai also ordered firms to shut, exempting those offering public services or supplying food, although factories that managed to put in "closed-loop" systems could continue production. Some hospitals also suspended services as they release staff and other resources to assist with mass testing.

U.S. automaker Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) is suspending production at its factory, located in a district impacted by the first stage of the lockdown, for four days, two people familiar with the matter told Reuters.

Volkswagen (DE:VOWG_p), however, whose Shanghai plant is in a part of the city that is set to be tested in the second stage, said its production in the city was ongoing. [nP8N2VV00E]

Shanghai locks down as COVID surges in China's financial hub
 

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Comments (13)
John Laurens
John Laurens Mar 29, 2022 3:51AM ET
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Xi's little gift is coming home. No point in hiding now..
Options Trader
Options Trader Mar 28, 2022 11:30PM ET
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50 cases.
Jose Cabreja
Jose Cabreja Mar 28, 2022 1:49PM ET
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why April 1st?
Vv Pp
Vv Pp Mar 28, 2022 7:59AM ET
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this is how you respect your people, a great lesson for all of us in West
vince smith
vince smith Mar 28, 2022 6:14AM ET
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what do the Chinese know that the rest of the world doesn't?
Ron Love
Ron Love Mar 28, 2022 6:14AM ET
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Nothing. China has a zero-COVID policy. Most the rest of the civilized world didn’t do much for the omicron common cold variant.
Matt Skinner
Matt Skinner Mar 28, 2022 6:14AM ET
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They dont know How to manage a minor disease. The rest of the world has handled it already. How long are they going to do this. This isnt a plan its a reaction
Dave Jones
Dave Jones Mar 28, 2022 3:46AM ET
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This is great for everything right?
Peng Leqiao
Peng Leqiao Mar 28, 2022 3:01AM ET
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life has more value than money and freedom.
John Kang
John Kang Mar 28, 2022 3:01AM ET
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except yours
John Laurens
John Laurens Mar 28, 2022 3:01AM ET
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Life without freedom is death. You can't understand that because you were bred to be subservient.
Alessandro Zigliani
Alessandro Zigliani Mar 28, 2022 2:07AM ET
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Now this article is very interesting. you see Shangai has 26milion people and their economy is getting disrupted because of covid for 5K case. Here in Italy, for example, we have 60million people, older people by the way, and 60K cases. And nothing is getting disrupted more than usual. So... How fake are these numbers? and have been for years at this point?
Anakin Skwk
Anakin_Skwk Mar 28, 2022 2:07AM ET
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China cares more about the lives of its people, even if the lethality rate is only one in 10,000. You don't care about the lives of the elderly, but the Chinese do.
John Laurens
John Laurens Mar 28, 2022 2:07AM ET
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Anakin Skwk  If China cared, they'd stop making such viruses.
Kelly Mayer
Kelly Mayer Mar 28, 2022 1:55AM ET
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China will be locking people down well into 2050. Just because they can. And it works wonders for all those shorts that are behind this. If these lockdowns were effective, they wouldnt be doing them still, after 2.5 years.
PAULIUS MATIUSOVAS
PAULIUS MATIUSOVAS Mar 28, 2022 1:46AM ET
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all one big plan, for people to own nothing
 
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