COVID-19 Recovery | China imprisons millions of people

(Shanghai) Several million people were confined in China on Wednesday over a resurgence in the epidemic, raising fears of a return of restrictions, particularly in Shanghai, a month after a long and grueling confinement was lifted.

Posted at 6:37
Updated at 9:14 am

Vivian LIN with Beiyi SEOW in Beijing
Media Agency France

China’s largest city was placed under a two-month blanket in the spring to contain the country’s worst outbreak of COVID-19 since the epidemic began.

The economic capital’s particularly severe confinement has been a test for its 25 million residents, who have faced fresh produce supply problems.

The draconian measures taken to combat the virus, including the systematic placement of positive cases in quarantine centers, had caused despair among the population.

Shanghai lifted the 1stah June saw most of the restrictions, but some neighborhoods were temporarily restricted after sporadic cases were discovered.

A recovery has been observed since Sunday and Shanghai reported 24 more cases on Wednesday.

To identify contact cases, most districts have started screening tests.

“I really don’t want to do it, it’s pointless,” resident Alice Chan told AFP, but decided to do it because she feared her health card would turn red.

“People aren’t afraid of COVID-19 anymore, they’re afraid of being locked up at home,” said Yao, a Shanghai local who declined to give his last name.

Touch of deja vu

Shanghai closed all of its karaoke bars on Wednesday amid some cases of COVID-19, authorities said.

Five weeks after a difficult curfew was lifted, some residents fear a return to tighter restrictions.

A concern compounded by the receipt of food rations by some households, according to messages widely shared on social networks.

“Putuo District is sending vegetables again,” a resident wrote on WeChat.

On Wednesday, the Ministry of Health reported nearly 300 new cases nationwide.

The hardest-hit area is eastern Anhui Province, where 1.7 million people are currently confined in two rural townships.

More than a thousand cases have been identified there since last week, with contamination now spreading to neighboring Jiangsu (east) province, which borders Shanghai and is a key manufacturing region.

The Omicron variant remains a “big problem for the Chinese economy,” warns economist Ting Lu from Nomura Bank.

” Under control ”

China is one of the latest countries to implement a so-called “zero COVID-19” strategy in the face of the epidemic. This health policy consists of massive screenings, mandatory quarantines in case of a positive PCR test and targeted restrictions.

These measures, deemed necessary by the authorities for health reasons, penalize the activity as many businesses are closed or idle.

Nomura Bank estimates that at least 114 million Chinese are subject to various travel restrictions, including lockdowns. A week ago it was 66 million.

The major city of Xi’an (north) is also introducing “control measures” following an outbreak of Omicron related to subline BA.5.2, according to local health authorities.

This strain is said to be more contagious but less virulent.

Restaurants, bars, places of worship and even karaoke will be closed in the 13 million metropolis for a week as a preventive measure.

A former imperial capital, Xi’an is known worldwide for its buried Terracotta Army of China’s first emperor.

Subvariant BA.5.2 was also detected in Beijing, but authorities there considered the epidemic “under control” on Wednesday.

The capital is nevertheless stepping up its health measures: from July 11, libraries, museums and cinemas will only be accessible to vaccinated people.

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