Nearly 30m under lockdown in China as coronavirus surges
15 March 2022, 01:05 pm
Nearly 30 million people were under lockdown across China on Tuesday, as surging virus cases returned mass tests and hazmat suited health officials to city streets on a scale not seen since the start of the pandemic.
China reported 5,280 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, more than double the previous day’s tally as the highly-transmissible Omicron variant spreads across a country that has tethered tightly to a ‘zero-COVID’ strategy.
That approach, which pivots on hard localized lockdowns and has left China virtually cut off from the outside world for two years, appears to be on the line as Omicron finds its way into communities.
At least 13 cities nationwide were fully locked down on Tuesday, while various other cities had partial lockdowns.
The northeastern province of Jilin was the worst hit, with over 3,000 new cases on Tuesday, according to the National Health Commission.
Residents of several cities there including the provincial capital of Changchun, home to nine million people, are under stay-at-home orders.
Shenzhen, the southern tech hub of 17.5 million people, is three days into a lockdown with many factories closed and supermarket shelves emptying, while China’s largest city Shanghai is under a lattice of restrictions - which fall short of a citywide shutdown.
But scenes of closed neighborhoods, panic buying and police cordons cast back to the early phase of the pandemic, which first emerged in China in late 2019 but has eased in much of the rest of the world.
Tuesday was the sixth day in a row that more than 1,000 new cases were recorded in the world’s second-biggest economy, with experts forecasting a dent in growth as the virus billows out.