It’s a two-step lockdown. Half of Shanghai is put under glass, from Monday March 28, when the Chinese economic capital of 25 million inhabitants faces its worst outbreak of Covid-19 for two years. Shanghainese living in the east of the city are confined until 1er April at 5 a.m. at their homes, with a ban on leaving. On this date, it will be the turn of the western part.
The announcement of this measure on Sunday evening caused an influx of residents into supermarkets. Many of them are tired of the powerlessness of the authorities to curb the epidemic outbreak despite several weeks of restrictions. “We really do not understand the anti-epidemic measures of the town hall. There is a lack of consistencysays a 59-year-old man, who is queuing to buy groceries. After all this time already, the city still cannot control the virus and the numbers continue to climb. »
For the town hall, this two-phase confinement aims to accelerate the screening of the population and to overcome new infections ” as soon as possible “. Until then, Shanghai had tried to avoid total confinement, which would be very detrimental to the economy, seeking instead to minimize the disruption with a more targeted approach: confinements of forty-eight hours of buildings or residential complexes.
3,500 new positive cases
The metropolis has become in recent days the epicenter of a new wave of contamination, linked to the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2, which began to accelerate at the beginning of March and is putting the Chinese strategy “zero covid”. The Ministry of Health reported 3,500 new positive cases in Shanghai on Monday.
The part confined this Monday is that of Pudong, a district which notably includes the city’s international airport and the famous business district with its huge and emblematic skyscrapers. From Friday, it will be Puxi, the western half of Shanghai, which will be under glass. It includes the famous historic artery of the Bund, along the Huangpu River, which crosses the city. The town hall did not immediately specify what the consequences would be for Shanghai airports and its seaport.
China has largely eradicated the epidemic since 2020 thanks to quarantines on arrival in the territory, tracing of movements by mobile applications and confinements of cities, sometimes decreed after only a handful of cases. But Omicron is undermining the Covid zero: the Ministry of Health has identified thousands of new daily cases over the past two weeks. A very low level globally, but high for China, where the number of new daily infections has rarely exceeded 100 since the spring of 2020.
Shenzhen out of containment
In recent weeks, millions of residents of affected regions across the country have been subjected to confinements, such as the technological metropolis of Shenzhen (south) or the industrial city of Shenyang (northeast).
But if Shanghai and its previously targeted confinements are struggling to overcome Omicron, others see the end of the tunnel. Shenzen, which had been completely confined at the beginning of March, is resuming its activity because the number of new positive cases is now very low.
Chinese authorities also watched nervously as the Omicron wave in Hong Kong claimed a large number of unvaccinated elderly casualties.