Beijing tightens COVID restrictions as virus spreads in China

  • Beijing closes dozens of subway stations and bus routes
  • Extend sidewalks in restaurants, other places
  • Zhengzhou will enforce some COVID restrictions next week
  • Shanghai remains gripped by total confinement

BEIJING/SHANGHAI, May 4 (Reuters) – Beijing on Wednesday closed dozens of subway stations and bus routes and widened COVID-19 curbs in many public places, focusing efforts to avoid the fate of Shanghai, where millions have been under strict confinement for more than a month.

The central city of Zhengzhou also announced restrictions earlier, joining dozens of large population centers under some form of lockdown as China seeks to eliminate a virus believed to have first emerged in the city of Wuhan in late 2019.

But that uncompromising battle is undermining its growth and hurting international companies that have invested there, the data shows, and has also fueled rare public outbursts of discontent.

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With dozens of new cases a day, Beijing hopes mass testing will find and isolate the virus before it spreads. Twelve of the city’s 16 districts conducted the second of three rounds of testing this week.

The city of 22 million people on Wednesday closed more than 60 subway stations, about 15% of the network, and 158 bus routes, service providers said, most in Chaoyang district at the epicenter of the outbreak. Beijing.

Beijing officials also said the closure of schools, restaurants, gyms and entertainment venues, as well as some businesses and residential buildings, would extend beyond the Labor Day break from April 30 to May 4, without giving a timeline. read more

Residents were encouraged to work from home beginning Thursday, rather than return to offices when possible.

Late Tuesday, Zhengzhou, home to 12.6 million people and a factory for Apple’s iPhone maker Foxconn (2354.TW), announced work-from-home and other COVID restrictions for next week. Foxconn said on Wednesday that production there was continuing. read more

In Shanghai, meanwhile, a total lockdown remains in place.

After more than a month, most people in mainland China’s largest city are still unable to leave their homes.

Some have benefited from a tentative easing of restrictions since Sunday, with usually only one member of the family allowed to go for a walk and shop for groceries.

The most recent data showed that Shanghai found 63 new cases outside the areas under the strictest sidewalks, suggesting it has some way to go before it hits the multi-day goal of no cases for sidewalks to ease significantly.

The lockdown has led to a cat-and-mouse game between censors and social media users scrambling to keep evidence of the hardship circulating. Some have turned to blockchain technology to protect videos, photos, and artwork on the subject from being removed. read more

Such acts of defiance are uncomfortable for the ruling Communist Party in a year in which President Xi Jinping is expected to win a third term as leader.

Officials say their zero-COVID policy is aimed at saving lives, pointing to the millions who have died from the virus outside of China, where many countries are adopting a “living with COVID” strategy amid spreading infections.

But the policy is hurting domestic consumption and production, disrupting global supply chains and cutting into revenue for international brands like Apple (AAPL.O), Gucci parent Kering (PRTP.PA) and Taco Bell owner , Yum China (9987.HK). read more

Capital Economics estimated that COVID had spread to areas that generate 40% of China’s output and 80% of its exports, while Fitch Ratings cut its 2022 GDP growth forecast from 4.8% to 4. 3%, well below China’s official target of 5.5%.

Numerous factories were closed after Shanghai was closed from March. While some have begun to reopen, it has proven difficult to get workers back and untangle supply chains. read more

In the city’s Lingang free trade zone area, 252 companies, or 52% of the total, had resumed work as of May 3, the Xinhua news agency reported. Authorities were subsidizing COVID screening of workers and providing rent relief, he said.

International trade is also facing disruption.

A study by the Royal Bank of Canada found that a fifth of the world’s container ship fleet was stuck in ports. read more

At the port of Shanghai, 344 ships were waiting to dock, an increase of 34% from last month. Shipping something from a warehouse in China to one in the United States takes 74 days longer than usual, according to the study.

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Reporting to Aizhu Chen, Hou Xiangming, Brenda Goh, and the Beijing and Shanghai offices; Written by Marius Zaharia; Edited by Robert Birsel and John Stonestreet

Our standards: the Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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