Shanghai residents rush to stock up as second stage of Covid-19 lockdown looms
SHANGHAI, March 31 (Reuters) - Residents of China's commercial capital of Shanghai scrambled on Thursday to stock up groceries as they braced for a lockdown in the city's western areas to stop the spread of Covid-19, while authorities appealed for continued compliance with curbs.
The city, home to 26 million people, is in the fourth day of a two-stage lockdown divided between the historic centre west of the Huangpu River and the financial and industrial district of Pudong in the east.
Public transport in western areas will halt, with residents confined to their homes from 3 a.m. on Friday (1900 GMT Thursday).
In central Shanghai, vegetable sellers and butchers hawked their wares from behind barriers and on sidewalks. Restaurants hoping to cut losses advertised deep discounts through chat groups on social media.
“Lockdown super deal! 50% off on steaks”, advertised a pamphlet from a high-end steak house.
The two-stage lockdown began on Monday in eastern districts, where the curbs are to be lifted at 5 a.m. on Friday. But some residents told Reuters they could be asked to stay in longer, especially as the number of new infections keeps rising.
Authorities would decide how to lift the first stage of lockdown on the basis of testing results and advice from experts, city government official Ma Chunlei told a daily news conference.
Shanghai’s daily tally of infections eased for the first time in about two weeks, authorities said on Thursday.
It reported 5,298 locally transmitted new asymptomatic cases and 355 symptomatic cases for Wednesday, versus corresponding figures of 5,656 and 326 the previous day.
Shanghai makes up almost 80% of local asymptomatic cases across China for Wednesday, and about 20% of those with symptoms.
The outbreak, and the curbs against it, have disrupted life for residents and businesses.
U.S. electric car maker Tesla TSLA.O is extending a production halt at its Shanghai factory for at least two days, following an output suspension since Monday, two sources told Reuters.
Volkswagen’s VOWG_p.DE Shanghai joint venture with SAIC Motor 600104.SS will maintain some production between April 1 and 5 by providing accommodation and meals at its factory for employees volunteering to work, it said.
Many residents have vented frustration on social media with videos and images of crowded quarantine centres, while seeking help with medical treatment and buying food.
In a letter to residents, the city government thanked them for their efforts and sacrifices, especially as some spent a long time in quarantine and lockdown. But it urged them to keep co-operating to rein in the virus.
Ma, the Shanghai government official, however, acknowledged that the city could have done more, adding that authorities were trying to improve distribution of food and issues with securing medical help.
“Our knowledge about the highly contagious Omicron variant has been insufficient, we were inadequately prepared for the fast-rising number of infected patients, and our control measures have not been up to speed,” he said.
Still, even though some in Shanghai have questioned how practical China’s strategy of “dynamic clearance” is, the approach will not be relaxed, state news agency Xinhua has said, saying it was essential to protect lives and health.
By Brenda Goh and Winni Zhou
(Reporting by Brenda Goh and Winni Zhou; Additional reporting by Roxanne Liu and Zhang Yan; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)
"Information pertaining to Covid-19, vaccines, how to control the spread of the virus and potential treatments is ever-changing. Under the South African Disaster Management Act Regulation 11(5)(c) it is prohibited to publish information through any medium with the intention to deceive people on government measures to address COVID-19. We are therefore disabling the comment section on this article in order to protect both the commenting member and ourselves from potential liability. Should you have additional information that you think we should know, please email [email protected]"