Shanghai Begins Second Stage of COVID-19 Lockdown as Officials Aim to Test Millions

Chinese officials plan to test 16 million residents living in western Shanghai in the coming days, after the city began the second phase of its lockdown on April 1, according to China’s state-run media.

Meanwhile, residents living in eastern and southern Shanghai hoping to return to normal life on April 1 after a four-day lockdown have been told that they could be confined to their homes a lot longer, a fresh sign that the city’s COVID-19 outbreak is not easing.

China has been battling the spread of the Omicron variant of the CCP virus for about a month, with Shanghai being one of the hardest-hit areas. The city reported 4,502 new infection cases on April 1, though the actual number could be significantly higher, since experts and some Chinese residents have previously said that Chinese officials were underreporting infection numbers.

The spike in infection cases prompted Shanghai officials to begin enforcing a two-stage lockdown on March 28, with the goal of testing the city’s entire population of 26 million. The first phase of the lockdown—which targeted residents living in Pudong and Pusan, districts that sit on the east and south sides respectively of Shanghai’s Huangpu River—was supposed to end at 5 a.m. local time on April 1.

However, new restrictions for Pudong and Punan were announced by the city’s officials at around 8 p.m. local time on March 31.

Under the new measures, all locals living in residential areas where infection cases have been reported will be confined to their homes for at least 10 more days. Areas that are already sealed off will remain close for additional three days. There will also be more testing targeting residents living in these areas.

Shanghai lockdown
Empty streets during the second stage of a COVID-19 lockdown in the Yangpu district in Shanghai on April 1, 2022. (STR/AFP via Getty Images)

The second phase, which began at 3 a.m. local time on April 1, subjects residents living in the Puxi area, located west of the river, to a four-day lockdown.

Mass testing and confining people to their homes are parts of the Chinese regime’s strict “zero-COVID” policy, where officials track down every single virus case in the hope of eliminating the virus altogether.

In Shanghai, the policy has also included measures such as suspending public transportation, shutting down non-essential businesses, and restricting access to roads.

These methods have fueled rising discontent throughout China.

In Shanghai, the ongoing lockdown has caused some residents to complain about not having access to enough food and medicine. Other residents have complained about not being able to talk to their family members on the phone after their loved ones tested positive for COVID-19 and were isolated in hospitals.

China’s continued use of harsh quarantines measures, including lockdowns, could negatively affect its economy.

French bank Natixis, in a research report published on March 30, wrote that mobility restrictions due to lockdowns could “shave off 1.8 percentage points reduction in China’s GDP during Q1 2022.”

“What seems clear now is that achieving the 5.5% growth target, set by the government work report, is facing increasing headwinds, as China’s GDP will be under more pressure than earlier expected for Q1 and more uncertainties will probably arrive in the following quarters,” according to Natixis.

On March 31, China’s National Bureau of Statistics announced that the country’s manufacturing and services activities both contracted in March, the first time since early 2020.

The official purchasing managers’ Index (PMI) dropped from 50.2 in February to 49.5 in March. Meanwhile, the non-manufacturing PMI fell to 48.4 in March from 51.6 in February.

From The Epoch Times