Taxi services

Shanghai tracks Covid-19 cases, Beijing limits taxi services

SHANGHAI/BEIJING – Authorities in Shanghai combed through the city on Thursday (May 12) for its latest Covid-19 cases in hopes of clearing the way to escape a painful six-week lockdown, while Beijing limited the taxi services to keep a lid on his little outbreak.

China’s mall of 25 million people has in recent days tightened its lockdown in a last-ditch effort to eradicate the virus by the end of the month after making significant progress, data this week showed.

Shanghai’s mass testing detected just two new cases outside of the tightest restricted areas on May 11, officials said Thursday, but that was two more than none the day before.

Significantly, the cases were found in two of the city’s 16 districts, Xuhui and Fengxian, which authorities said this week were among eight that had achieved “zero-Covid” status, having had no community case for three consecutive days.

The latest cases show the difficulty in completing the highly transmissible variant of Omicron despite ruthlessly enforcing some of China’s toughest restrictions since the virus emerged in the city of Wuhan in late 2019.

The new infections are also raising concerns about how long it will take to return to normal life under China’s hardline “zero-Covid” policy after the lockdown is lifted for good.

Mr. Yu Linwei, vice-governor of Xuhui, told a press conference that his district would not let up on anti-epidemic efforts, ensuring that everyone is tested and that new cases and their close contacts are isolated in quarantine as soon as possible.

“We dare not slack off,” he said.

Overall, Shanghai has reported more than 1,000 cases, but these were in areas already under the strictest controls and well below the peak.

Cases found in relatively freer communities are those most closely watched for clues to the direction of Shanghai’s outbreak. Other Chinese cities subject to similar lockdowns began easing restrictions after a period of zero cases in those areas.

TAXIS FACING THE SIDEWALK

Daily cases in Beijing have remained relatively stable, in the dozens.

Late Wednesday, Beijing announced the suspension of taxis and transportation services in parts of Chaoyang District, Beijing’s largest and the epicenter of its outbreak, and two other districts.

Authorities there have banned dine-in services at restaurants, closed some shopping malls, entertainment and tourist venues, suspended sections of its bus and subway systems and imposed closures on some residential buildings.

The number of cases in China is a tiny fraction of what the world’s major cities have come to ignore, as most countries lift restrictions to “live with the virus” even as infections continue to spread.

China has doubled down on its global anti-trend policy, putting hundreds of millions of people in dozens of cities under movement restrictions, causing significant economic damage and disrupting international trade and supply chains.

With factory workers and consumers stuck at home and many businesses forced to suspend operations, China’s export growth is at a two-year low, unemployment near a two-year high. Youth unemployment is at 16%, the highest since July 2021.

Fiscal and monetary policy will prioritize jobs, state media said Wednesday quoting the cabinet.

The yuan hit a new 19-month low on Thursday, after falling nearly 6% in less than a month.

Authorities say their Covid-19 policy saves lives and point to the millions of deaths caused by the virus elsewhere to justify the strategy.

“DYSTOPIAN NIGHTMARE”

At an apartment building in Shanghai’s central Jing’an district, residents have again been told they cannot leave their apartments after being allowed out last week to walk around the compound.

“As restrictive as it is, those 10 minutes of freedom, being able to get some fresh air outside my building and walking my dog, kept my sanity,” said Stephanie Sam, 27, a resident of the building. , on the social media site WeChat.

The tightening of the curbs “took away the last hope I had about the near end of this dystopian nightmare,” she said.

The district has not reported any community cases and, like other areas of the city, has entered what authorities call “silent management mode.”

This usually means signs or fencing around buildings, banned deliveries and residents being confined to their homes again.

A video that briefly circulated on social media, the authenticity of which Reuters could not verify, showed police in security gear at the door of someone with quarantine orders.

An officer told a man he would face punishment that would affect his family for three generations if he failed to comply.

“We are the last generation,” the man said.

His words quickly spread across social media, with users inserting them into posts on unrelated topics, from K-pop to economics, to evade censorship for as long as possible with a small show of displeasure.

A search for the words returned no results after a few hours. Reuters