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Covid-Weary China’s Shanghai ‘finds solutions’ for locked-down residents

Covid in Shanghai: Shanghai in China has imposed severe movement restrictions to stem the spread of Covid.


On Thursday, Shanghai said it was doing its best to improve the distribution of food and essential goods to locked-down residents, responding to growing dissatisfaction with difficulties such as Covid curbs stretching into an 11th day.

China’s financial hub has remained largely silent after the city imposed severe restrictions on movement to stem the spread of Covid, with only healthcare workers, volunteers, delivery staff or people with special clearance allowed in the streets.

Authorities say this has cut the number of couriers, who have to supply the city’s 26 million people, to just 11,000. Services still operational, but overloaded, include Meituan as well as the online grocery platform Alibaba’s Freshippo and its service.

Shanghai has ample supplies of staples such as rice and meat, but problems have arisen in last-mile distribution and deliveries due to epidemic control measures, the vice mayor of Shanghai said on Thursday. Shanghai, Chen Tong, at a press conference.

He said the city would try to reopen some wholesale markets and grocery stores and allow more delivery people out of closed areas. Authorities will also crack down on price gouging, he added.

“In response to the various issues reported by the public, we held meetings overnight to try to find solutions,” he said.

Many residents are beginning to worry about food and drinking water, as well as getting things like infant formula.

Some have complained on social media of waking up at dawn for a chance to book a grocery delivery only to find them sold out within seconds. Others have turned to WeChat community groups to try to buy fruits and vegetables in bulk.

Shanghai, which has conducted multiple rounds of testing, reported nearly 20,000 new locally transmitted cases on Wednesday, 98% of which were asymptomatic.

However, there are signs that transmission is still occurring despite the shutdowns. Of its 19,660 asymptomatic infections, 633 were in people who were not in quarantine or under control measures, the data showed.

Shanghai on Wednesday denied rumors that it planned to suspend all delivery services amid fears the virus could be spread by those workers. This requires them to take PCR and antigen tests every day, and they can only deliver goods if they test negative.

China’s most populous city has yet to give any indication of when the lockdown measures will be lifted, fueling uncertainty and prompting European businesses and economists to warn of the growing consequences they have on its economy and its attractiveness as an international financial centre.

Although the number of cases in Shanghai remains low by global standards, the city has become a test bed for China’s ‘dynamic clearance’ anti-Covid strategy, which aims to test, trace and quarantine centrally all positive cases and their close contacts.

On Thursday, Shanghai city officials said they will continue to carry out more tests among its residents who will be asked to take PCR tests or self-administered antigen tests.

Shanghai has converted dozens of buildings into quarantine facilities that can accommodate tens of thousands of positive cases. Late Wednesday, the China News Service said neighboring provinces of Jiangsu and Zhejiang will also provide an additional 60,000 rooms for patients in Shanghai to quarantine.


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