Shanghai will lock up millions again
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Shanghai will lock up millions again

China’s commercial hub, Shanghai, will lock up millions of people this weekend for massive COVID-19 testing — just 10 days after lifting its grueling two-month lockdown — alarming residents and worrying about the business impact.

Shanghai will lock up millions again

In a race to stop a wider outbreak after discovering a handful of community cases, including one traced back to a popular beauty parlor, authorities ordered PCR tests for all residents of 14 of the 16 counties this weekend from Shanghai.

Five districts said residents should not be allowed to leave their homes while testing was conducted. A notice from Changning district described the stay-at-home requirement as “closed management” of the community being sampled.

The latest panic sparked a stampede on supermarkets and online platforms to stock up on food. Users of China’s Twitter-like Weibo voiced fears they’d be locked up for extended periods because they wouldn’t return to work until after the lockdown. The last closure was lifted on June 1.

Some areas had remained closed off or were quickly re-locked due to infections and their close contacts.

“The residential complex next to mine has already been closed,” said Zhang Jian, a 34-year-old real estate agent.

“If there is massive testing and another positive case in the compound, it will seriously impact our lives.”

While the infection rate in China is low by global standards, President Xi Jinping has doubled a zero-COVID policy that authorities say is necessary to protect the elderly and the medical system, even as other countries try to live with the virus.

Mainland China reported 151 new coronavirus cases for June 9, of which 45 were symptomatic and 106 asymptomatic, the National Health Commission said Friday.

The latest round of mass testing comes on top of the already tough testing requirements Shanghai has put in place for its 25 million residents after easing its earlier lockdown.

Residents must prove that they have been tested in the past 72 hours to enter areas such as shopping centers and offices – or even to use subways and buses. Many have become frustrated with the prospect of waiting for hours to be tested.

Meanwhile, Beijing closed nightlife and internet locations in two of the capital’s largest districts on Thursday after it traced business to a few bars.

Shanghai’s earlier lockdown sparked widespread frustration, anger, and even rare protests among residents, many of whom struggled with lost income, the loss of freedom, the death of friends and relatives, and even starvation.

It has also battered China’s economy, disrupted supply chains, and slowed international trade. And the latest setback has hit sentiment in the financial markets.

Travel to China remains severely limited, with most international flights canceled in the past two years and lengthy quarantines for those who manage to arrive.