China’s zero-Covid policy: lockdown fears in Beijing

As of: 04/25/2022 7:11 p.m

Authorities in Beijing are warning of a corona outbreak – and the population is reacting by buying hamsters: Many are afraid that the capital will soon be sealed off like Shanghai.

By Eva Lamby-Schmitt, ARD Studio Shanghai

There are now empty supermarket shelves in the Chinese capital Beijing – just like in Shanghai just before the lockdown four weeks ago. Authorities warn that the virus has been spreading undetected in the capital for a week. They assume that in addition to the at least 70 cases that are currently reported, more infections will be discovered.

An expert from the national health agency told the party-affiliated newspaper “Global Times” that whether a lockdown would be imposed on all or parts of Beijing depended on the spread of the virus. Several blocks of flats in Beijing’s largest district, Chaoyang, have already been cordoned off. Speaking at a press conference on the outbreak, Tian Wei, director of the city-level information office of the Communist Party, said the need to take “resolute measures: “Prevent deaths, act quickly, identify and control the risks as soon as possible, uncover the origin of cases, Organize PCR tests and break the chain of virus transmission.”

Lessons from lockdown

According to the authorities in Beijing, they want to learn lessons from the lockdown in Shanghai and other cities with the quick action. The international financial metropolis has been in a strict lockdown for four weeks. There is no end in sight. Some of the announced easing were not implemented or reversed.

The virus continues to spread there. Shanghai is currently reporting almost 20,000 new infections every day and a new high in deaths. According to official information, another 51 people have died in connection with the corona virus.

Sophie Richardson from the human rights organization Human Rights Watch criticizes that people still have difficult access to food and medical care. “The government can’t just do what it wants. When they impose a lockdown, they have to ensure that people still get food, drinking water, medicine and medical treatment for diseases other than Covid-19,” she says, criticizing the same limited people’s access to information: People have little opportunity to know what the government is doing – let alone compare it to what the government is officially communicating.

Ship jam and stock market downswing

At the world’s largest port in Shanghai, the backlog of ships waiting to be unloaded and loaded is getting longer and longer. Due to the lockdowns in Shanghai, there are too few truck drivers who can bring goods to and from the port. In addition, they cannot drive freely in the city without special permits.

Stock markets in China have plummeted to their lowest levels in two years amid concerns about a possible extension of lockdowns to the capital.

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