‘Please cooperate, otherwise..’: Thousands of Covid-negative Beijing residents quarantined overnight

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Covid-19 cases in China showed a significant drop after two major cities – Shanghai and Beijing recorded a fourth wave as cases increased. Chinese authorities had resorted to a strict lockdown, causing serious problems for locked-down residents, in which videos emerged of people asking for ‘death’ rather than another strict lockdown.

Capital Beijing has refrained from imposing a citywide lockdown, reporting dozens of new cases a day, compared to tens of thousands in Shanghai at its peak. Yet the endless restrictions and mass testing imposed on the Chinese capital have disrupted its economy and upended the lives of its people.

China’s strategy to reach zero Covid cases includes strict border closures, long quarantines, mass testing and rapid, targeted lockdowns.

beijing

In the latest news from the Chinese capital, thousands of Covid-negative residents are known to have been moved to quarantine hotels overnight due to a handful of infections.

According to reports, only 26 cases were reported in Beijing, following which these residents were forced into quarantine and asked to “cooperate”. “Please cooperate, otherwise you will bear the corresponding legal consequences,” people were told.

Beijing is battling its worst outbreak since the pandemic began. The Omicron variant has infected more than 1,300 people since late April, causing the city’s restaurants, schools and tourist attractions to close indefinitely.

More than 13,000 residents of the closed Nanxinyuan residential compound in southeast Beijing were moved to quarantine hotels overnight Friday due to 26 new infections discovered in recent days, according to photos and a notice of the government widely shared on social networks.

“Experts have determined that all Nanxinyuan residents are under centralized quarantine starting at midnight on May 21 for seven days,” Chaoyang district authorities said Friday.

Pictures on social media showed hundreds of residents with luggage queuing in the dark to board coaches parked outside the compound.

“Some of us have been locked down for 28 days since April 23, and all of us tested negative throughout,” one resident wrote on Weibo Twitter.

“The transfer really makes us feel like we’re in a war scene,” resident and real estate blogger Liu Guangyu said on Weibo early Saturday.

Liu told AFP they were only informed of the move half a day in advance, but said he was happy with the hotel.

Residents were told to pack their clothes and essentials, and their homes would then be sanitized, according to screenshots shared on Weibo.

Chaoyang district disease control authorities told AFP they were not releasing information to the outside and relying on the Beijing authorities’ Covid press conference.

Beijing authorities extended home orientation work to another district on Saturday, a day after shutting down the vast majority of public bus and subway services.

Shanghai

Shanghai cautiously moved ahead on Saturday with plans to restore part of its transport network in a major step towards emerging from a week-long Covid-19 lockdown, while Beijing maintained its defenses in an epidemic that persists for a month.

Shanghai’s lockdown since early April has dealt a severe blow to the economy of China’s most populous city, sparked debate over the sustainability of the national zero-Covid policy and stoked fears of future lockdowns and disruptions.

Weibo users have expressed widespread concern that authorities in Beijing are taking a similar approach in Shanghai, where residents have chafed under a month-long lockdown that has deprived many of adequate access to the food and medical care.

Shanghai’s central Jingan district, a key commercial area in China’s financial hub, said on Saturday it would require all supermarkets and shops to close and residents to stay at home until at least Tuesday.

The district plans to conduct mass Covid testing from Sunday to Tuesday, it said on its official WeChat account.

The use of all exit permits previously granted to residents that allowed them to leave their homes will be suspended, the district added without saying why.

(With agency contributions)

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