China imposes Covid lockdown in Xi’an after handful of cases

Businesses, schools and restaurants in Xi’an will close for one week, officials have said, after the Chinese city logged a handful of Covid-19 cases as outbreaks nationwide strain Beijing’s zero-tolerance virus approach. China is the last major economy wedded to a zero-Covid strategy, deploying snap lockdowns, quarantines and travel curbs in a bid to weed out new infections. Xi’an, a historic city of 13 million that endured a month-long lockdown at the end of last year, has reported 18 cases since Saturday in a cluster driven by the fast-spreading Omicron…

Alarm in Beijing after announcement zero-Covid policy may last five years

Authorities in Beijing have sparked confusion and alarm after announcing the strict zero-Covid policy could be in place for the next five years, including mass mandatory testing and travel restrictions. The notice, published on Monday afternoon, was attributed to Cai Qi, the Beijing secretary of the Chinese Communist party. The original text said: “In the next five years, Beijing will unremittingly grasp the normalisation of epidemic prevention and control.” The notice was first posted by Beijing Daily and republished by other state media outlets. It spread widely across social media,…

Heaven Supermarket: the Beijing bar at centre of Covid outbreak

Heaven Supermarket’s ability to attract young Chinese customers and foreigners has always been viewed with envy by its competitor bars in the Chinese capital. Located in one of the busiest nightlife districts in Beijing, the bar is modelled as a large self-service liquor store with chairs, sofas and tables. It is not the fanciest in its presentation, but on Chinese review websites, patrons highlight its affordability and down-to-earth attitude. Bono Lee, a Hong Kong culture critic who lived in the area between 2008 and 2012, once wrote of Heaven Supermarket:…

Shanghai reopens after two months of Covid lockdown – in pictures

Restrictions have eased and more than 22 million people are allowed to move around the city again Main image: People drink on a street, as the city prepares to end the lockdown placed to curb the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Shanghai Photograph: Aly Song/Reuters Wed 1 Jun 2022 01.46 EDT The Guardian

Shanghai starts to dismantle fences as Covid lockdown due to end

Shanghai authorities have begun dismantling fences around housing compounds and ripping police tape off public squares and buildings, to the relief of the city’s 25 million residents, before a painful two-month lockdown is lifted at midnight. On Monday evening, some of the people allowed out of their compounds for brief walks took advantage of suspended traffic to congregate for a beer and ice cream on deserted streets, but there was a sense of wariness and anxiety among residents. Most will be stuck indoors again until midnight, as they have been…

Half of Covid-hospitalised still symptomatic two years on, study finds

More than half of people hospitalised with Covid-19 still have at least one symptom two years after they were first infected, according to the longest follow-up study of its kind. While physical and mental health generally improve over time, the analysis suggests that coronavirus patients discharged from hospital still tend to experience poorer health and quality of life than the general population. The research was published in the Lancet Respiratory Medicine. “Our findings indicate that for a certain proportion of hospitalised Covid-19 survivors, while they may have cleared the initial…

‘No end in sight’: Shanghai residents chafe at harsh Covid measures

Tensions between Shanghai residents and China’s Covid enforcers are on the rise again, amid a new push to end infections outside quarantine zones to meet President Xi Jinping’s demand for achieving “dynamic zero-Covid”. Videos shared on China’s social media platforms showed suspected Covid-positive patients forcibly quarantined in central facilities. In some neighbourhoods a single positive case could lead to residents in the entire apartment building be sent for quarantine. Censors have been taking down many of these videos, but determined residents have continued to post them. Past speeches by top…

As China looks on at a world opening up, can Xi Jinping survive zero-Covid?

Across much of the world people are taking international holidays, returning to the office, and going to festivals and political rallies. Faced with the seemingly unstoppable Omicron variant, they’ve decided to live as close to normality as they can in the presence of Covid-19, limiting its impact. But in Covid-zero China it’s a vastly different story. An estimated 340 million people in at least 46 cities are under some form of lockdown or restrictions in China, as cases appear in multiple provinces – often in so far tiny quantities. On…

Shanghai further tightens Covid restrictions after weeks of strict lockdown

Authorities in Shanghai have further tightened restrictions on the movement of residents in some districts and warned its 25 million inhabitants that strict measures would continue until Covid-19 was eradicated, neighbourhood by neighbourhood. After three weeks of stringent lockdown that has fuelled discontent in China’s largest metropolis, some districts were told that restrictions would be tightened even when they met the criteria for people to be allowed to leave their homes. “Our goal is to achieve community zero-Covid as soon as possible,” the government said, referring to a target to…

Shanghai’s lockdown: desperation rises as food runs low

At about noon last Tuesday, Yu Wenming, an 82-year-old man in Shanghai, called his local residential committee for help. “I’ve used up my medicines. Nor do I have anything to eat. I’m feeling awful,” Yu, who had tested positive for Covid, told the party secretary, Zhang Zhen. Zhang listened patiently, saying he had already referred the case to his superiors and there was nothing he could do. “Do you mean I should just wait here until I die, then?” Yu asked. Zhang responded with an angry rant, complaining that he…