Shanghai cranked up lockdown restrictions for people residing in the eastern half of the city, barring everyone from leaving their homes even to walk their dogs as local daily Covid-19 infections jumped to a record 4,477 on Tuesday.
All residents in the Pudong district, home to many elite financial institutions and the Shanghai Stock Exchange, will be confined to their homes and allowed out only to get a Covid test, according to a statement issued by the area’s residential compounds reviewed by Bloomberg News.
Residents shouldn’t walk in the hallways, garages or open areas of their residential compounds in order to reduce the risk of infection, Wu Qianyu, an official with the Shanghai Municipal Health Commission, said during a briefing on Tuesday. That includes walking pets.
The stricter lockdown rules came a day after the Chinese financial hub started sealing off its 25 million people in two stages, with half the city locked down for four days, followed by the other half. The goal is to test the entire city for Covid-19, part of the effort to get its biggest outbreak to date under control.
Previously residents could go to the lobby of their buildings and walk around the open areas of their compounds. Some could even leave the complex as long as no infections had been detected in their buildings. While the Shanghai government said Sunday night that residents were required to stay home, the harsh home confinement wasn’t articulated until Tuesday.
Covid cases jumped to 4,477 on the first day of the lockdown, from 3,500 reported on Monday. There were 6,886 cases nationwide on Tuesday, according to data from China’s National Health Commission.
The Shanghai municipal government will continue to support the import antiviral drugs and Covid vaccines, officials said at the briefing, without providing further details. China has imported some 21,000 boxes of Pfizer Inc.’s Covid pill Paxlovid through Shanghai earlier this month, and has been treating high-risk patients with the drug.
The city also has rolled out a slew of measures, including tax relief, rent extension or reductions, and loan support for small businesses, retail and catering industries hit hard by the outbreak, officials said.
Shanghai’s lockdown came after a month of less disruptive measures failed to stymie omicron’s fast and stealthy spread in the community.
While officials vowed to keep the financial hub, a critical node in the global supply chain, open to avoid disruption to the Chinese and global economy, cases grew as authorities targeted more buildings and expanded the scope of testing. Eventually the authorities relented, resorting to the sweeping lockdowns announced in Sunday night in a bid to curtail spread of the virus.
So far China’s financial markets and the Shanghai port, which is the world’s biggest, remain open and are operating normally.
The intensified restrictions underscore the challenge Chinese officials face in implementing President Xi Jinping’s call for containment measures to be both effective in stifling Covid and minimal in their social and economic impact.
While the southern Chinese tech hub Shenzhen saw infections wind down to single digits after it emerged from a week-long lockdown, cities including Langfang and Tangshan near capital Beijing, as well as the entire northeastern province of Jilin, have remained sealed off for up to two weeks.
When Shanghai is included, some 62 million people in China are either in lockdown or facing one imminently, according to Bloomberg News calculations.