China’s leader Xi Jinping has reiterated his country’s commitment to zero-Covid, declaring that “persistence is victory” as Covid restrictions returned to Shanghai and Beijing.
The two major cities were hit with new lockdowns, shutdowns, and mass testing, only a mere week after the cities celebrated the easing of restrictions.
In response to China’s worst outbreak of the Covid pandemic, Shanghai spent months under a strict, strenuous, and sweeping citywide lockdown. Beijing authorities imposed localized lockdowns, as well as shutdowns of venues and public transport, and work-from-home orders.
In the last week, both Shanghai and Beijing had begun easing restrictions. Authorities praised how the communities contained the Omicron variant outbreak.
But yesterday both cities went back into high alert for Covid cases. New lockdowns were brought in for Shanghai districts to millions of people. Half of the city’s residents, about 14 million people, were ordered to undergo testing this week. All residents inside of affected districts are ordered to stay inside until the testing is complete. Some people were sent notices detailing two days of confinement and 12 days of testing.
Beijing saw the shutdown of entertainment venues. The quick return to restrictions has sparked alarm and frustration among residents of the cities.
China’s official state media reported today that Xi Jinping demanded officials effectively coordinated epidemic prevention with economic and social development. He said to “resolutely overcome some of the difficulties,” and that persistence is victory.
Xi said that the public must “unswervingly adhere” to the policy of “dynamic clearing,” swiftly reacting to Covid outbreaks to bring case numbers back to zero.
The mass quarantines and lockdowns have had a significant effect on China’s economy. Experts predict the massive country will struggle to meet economic growth targets of about 5.5 percent this year. Lockdowns have forced businesses to shut down, and have snarled the supply chains.
The news of the return to lockdowns has prompted quick public alarm, with grocery stores overcrowding again as people stock up on essentials.