SHANGHAI (REUTERS, XINHUA) – A fresh Covid-19 alert was in force in Beijing and Shanghai on Thursday (June 9) after parts of China’s largest economic hub imposed new lockdown restrictions.
News of the lockdown in Shanghai’s Minhang district, home to more than two million people, pulled down Chinese stocks. China’s blue-chip CSI300 index ended 1.1 per cent lower.
The Chinese capital’s most populous district, Chaoyang, meanwhile, announced the shutdown of entertainment venues.
Both Shanghai and Beijing had only recently eased heavy Covid-19 curbs, but the country has stuck with a “dynamic zero-Covid-19” policy aimed at shutting down transmission chains as soon as possible.
Shanghai residents, in particular, are on edge as new cases flare up after the city’s grinding two-month lockdown ended, with officials on Thursday tracing three infections to the Red Rose, a popular beauty salon that reopened when the city did on June 1.
The salon had served 502 customers from 15 of Shanghai’s 16 districts in the past eight days, a local digital media outlet, The Paper, reported.
“When is this ever going to end?” a user of the Twitter-like Weibo commented on the cases at the Red Rose, which is in the trendy Xuhui district. “I just want to have a normal life.”
The authorities said a preliminary investigation found that some of the salon’s 16 employees did not undergo daily Covid-19 testing as required, and that 90,000 people linked to Red Rose staff or customers had been tested.
While China’s infection rate is low by global standards, President Xi Jinping has doubled down on a zero-Covid-19 policy that the authorities say is needed to protect the elderly and the country’s medical system.
Several local-level authorities in Shanghai, which is home to 25 million people, have issued notices saying residents will be subject to two days of confinement and another 12 days of rigorous testing starting on Thursday.
Many of the notices were in the central Xuhui district, where green fences and red wooden boards have sprung up in the past week, barricading residents in and triggering fresh public anger.
Beijing on Thursday reported three new locally transmitted infections. The cases were reported in three districts of Beijing, with one each in Xicheng, Fengtai and Huairou, said Mr Liu Xiaofeng, deputy head of the Beijing municipal disease prevention and control centre, at a press conference on Thursday.
All the cases were patrons of the same bar in the Chaoyang district.
The authorities in Chaoyang ordered entertainment venues and Internet cafes to shut on Thursday, while patrons of four bars were told to identify themselves.