On Monday, China’s financial hub, Shanghai, launched a two-stage lockdown of its 26 million residents to contain surging COVID-19 cases.
Shanghai’s city government announced the closing of all bridges, tunnels, and highways around the city on Sunday.
Shanghai’s leadership has divided the city in two along the Huangpu River for the next nine days. The intent is to allow for staggered testing of its nearly 26 million residents. Residents on the city’s eastern side are now confined to their homes, while those on the western side will begin similar confinement on April 1.
This is the most considerable COVID-19 related impact on the Chinese city since the pandemic began.
Western residents have begun to collect groceries and other essential goods as they prepare for the coming restrictions. The city has started to feel the impact as stores and suppliers run low.
“Many wholesale markets are now closed. Some vendors are reluctant to buy in vegetables. If we cannot get vegetables from wholesalers or the wet market is closed, we are finished,” said one merchant in the city’s market.
Posts on China’s Weibo social network showed grocery store shelves empty as residents struggled to get enough supplies for the lockdown.
The sudden lockdown denotes a reversal for Shanghai’s authorities, which denied the city would be locked down in the face of rising infections.
Recent mass testing found significant numbers of infections throughout the city, triggering a more harsh response.
As of Sunday, there were 5,134 new asymptomatic and 1,219 symptomatic cases nationwide, the health authority said in its regular bulletin.
Shanghai’s Public Security Bureau announced it was closing river crossings, such as bridges, tunnels, and highway tollbooths, until April 1.
Residents leaving the city will need to show a negative nucleic acid test taken within the previous 48 hours.
During the lockdown, the city also said it was suspending public transport, including ride-hailing services.
Corporate offices and factories were closed during the lockdown. However, the city is exempting businesses that offer public services or supply food.