Shenzhen expands COVID restrictions as China grapples with more outbreaks of infection

Parts of Shenzhen, China’s southern technology hub, extended restrictions on public activities on Friday but fell short of a total lockdown, Reuters reports.

In Shenzhen’s Futian and Longhua business districts, home to a major campus of Apple’s iPhone assembler Foxconn, restrictions were extended until Sunday, while residents in several areas of the city were asked to work from home if possible.

Most of Shenzhen’s nearly 18 million residents are now under COVID control.

In March, the city shut down for a week to fight community infections, but on Thursday night officials sought to calm rumors that another full lockdown was imminent.

They stated that people can leave and return to their homes with a negative test done in less than 24 hours.

On Friday, officials reported 87 new locally transmitted COVID infections in Shenzhen on September 1, up from 62 the day before. Eight of the new cases were outside quarantine areas.

In the southwestern metropolis of Chengdu, which locked down its 21 million residents on Thursday, factories, including those of auto giants Toyota and Volkswagen, kept production in autonomous “closed circuit” mode.

Curbing tens of millions of people intensifies the challenge for China to cushion the economic impact of a “zero COVID” policy that has kept its borders largely closed to international visitors and made it an isolated case while others countries are learning to live with the coronavirus.

Economists at Nomura said on Friday that market expectations for an easing once China’s ruling Communist Party completes a five-year congress in October are optimistic. Nomura expects the COVID restrictions to be in place until at least March, when the annual parliamentary session takes place.

Even then, “we expect the economy and markets to go through a difficult time, as people will either be disappointed by the lack of real opening or overwhelmed by a rising COVID infection,” the economists wrote.

(source: AFP)

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