Several million people in China were confined to the city of Chengdu (southwest) on Friday, after a limited recovery from the epidemic paralyzed one of the country’s largest cities.
China continues to follow a strict health strategy called “zero COVID” despite having far fewer infections than the rest of the world.
This policy translates into restrictions once positive cases appear, mandatory PCR tests roughly every 72, 48 or even 24 hours, quarantine places, as well as factory and business closures.
Chengdu, a city of 21 million people, reported 150 new cases of the coronavirus on Friday.
To stem the pollution, the authorities launched a public examination of the population and ordered residents since Thursday to “stay at home” until further notice.
However, each household is allowed to send a person outside each day to buy groceries – subject to submitting a PCR test dating less than 24 hours.
Videos verified by AFP show long lines to be tested on the street, and supermarket shelves empty.
“Everyone is hoarding like crazy,” a 25-year-old Chengdu resident told AFP, who preferred to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals.
According to him, people have been taking precautions since Shanghai’s unexpected spring shutdown. Surprised residents complained about the lack of fresh produce or even food for some.
However, the situation appeared to be under control in Chengdu, with residents still able to get food delivered to their homes.
Chengdu initially rejected the idea of containment. On Tuesday, the police announced the detention of a man who “spread panic” for 15 days, allegedly to the contrary on social media.
On Friday, many netizens in China criticized the arrest and instead praised the stranger’s generosity.
Harmonizing with other comments on the Weibo social network, one wrote: “All heroes are slandered.”
China in recent weeks has faced a limited epidemiological recovery in the number of cases, but it is now affecting a large part of the country’s provinces.
In Shenzhen (south), a large city on the border with Hong Kong, authorities announced restrictions in several regions on Thursday. The move caused a rush of food delivery apps.
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