Some Shanghai residents will face a longer period of COVID lockdown

Residents of eastern Shanghai hoping to break out of a four-day lockdown received bad news late Thursday. Some will be confined to their homes for at least another 10 days.

It was the latest wrinkle in the lockdown of China’s biggest city as it strives to stamp out an omicron-induced coronavirus outbreak as part of China’s zero-COVID policy. Shanghai’s 26 million residents were first told the eastern part of the city would be locked down for mass testing for four days, followed by a similar exercise in the west.

The city announced new restrictions nine hours before the lockdown in the east is scheduled to end at 5 a.m. local time on Friday. It was unclear how many people would be expected to stay home beyond that.

Meanwhile, the four-day lockdown of the western part of Shanghai was due to start at 3 a.m. local time.

End of the Wuhan lockdown

There has been good news elsewhere in China in the country’s biggest COVID-19 outbreak since the first in early 2020 devastated Wuhan city and other parts of Hubei province. Authorities have announced the lifting of a citywide lockdown in the hardest-hit province.

Residents of Jilin will be able to move freely from Friday for the first time in more than three weeks, state broadcaster CCTV said, citing a notice from the city. They will be required to wear masks and, when indoors, to stay one meter apart. Public gatherings in parks and squares are prohibited.

A woman is seen selling goods on Thursday behind physical barriers that have been put in place for a COVID-related lockdown in Shanghai, China. (Hector Retamal/AFP/Getty Images)

The spread of COVID-19 has been brought under control in Jilin but not the rest of Jilin province, officials told a news conference. Progress has been made in Changchun, the provincial capital and an auto manufacturing hub on lockdown since March 11.

By far, most cases in the ongoing outbreak have been in Jilin province, which borders North Korea in China’s industrial northeast. Smaller outbreaks have appeared across the country, including in Shanghai, the country’s financial capital.

Residents’ criticism

Ma Chunlei, a senior Shanghai official, acknowledged the shortcomings in the city’s response. Authorities rushed to bolster food deliveries in the city after panic buying stripped store shelves of essentials.

“We haven’t prepared enough,” Ma said. “We sincerely accept public criticism and make efforts to improve it.”

A man watches alongside a police vehicle as workers set up barriers Thursday to seal off the area ahead of the second stage of a two-stage lockdown in Shanghai, China. (Aly Song/Reuters)

He spoke before new rules for Pudong, the half of Shanghai on the east side of the Huangpu River, were announced on Thursday evening. People living in a building where a positive case has been found will be required to stay home for an additional 10 days. Residents of other buildings in the same residential complex will be confined for three additional days.

People living in the surrounding neighborhood of a positive case will face less restrictive boundaries. They may be allowed out to buy basic necessities, but only for a limited time on certain days.

The economic impact reverberates around the world

Shanghai’s two-phase lockdown, which unfolded over eight days, has rattled global markets worried about the possible economic impact. China’s manufacturing activity fell to its lowest level in five months in March, a monthly survey showed on Thursday, as shutdowns and other restrictions forced factories to suspend production.

German automaker BMW’s factories in Shenyang, a city in northeast Liaoning province, have been closed for more than a week due to pandemic controls.

Around 16 million people will be tested during the lockdown in Puxi, on the west side of the river in Shanghai. Residents are not allowed to leave their neighborhoods or housing compounds during the four-day period, with groceries or meals delivered to their compounds.

China on Thursday reported 8,559 new cases in the previous 24 hours, of which 6,720 had no symptoms. The proportion of asymptomatic cases has been higher than in previous outbreaks, especially in Shanghai. About 100 of the new cases were imported cases among people who had recently arrived from overseas.