The Chinese technology center of Shenzhen's 17 million residents began their first full day under lockdown Monday, as restrictions were extended throughout Shanghai and other major cities to fight an infection that is challenging the country's zero-tolerance COVID policy.
The southern city of Shenzhen applied the restrictions on Sunday to prevent an Omicron from spreading in workplaces and areas linked to neighboring Hong Kong, where the virus is causing chaos.
Foxconn, a major Apple supplier, announced Monday that it had stopped operations in Shenzhen as the lockout impacted business activity across the industrial center.
Shenzhen is one of 10 cities in China that has secured all citizens, but the policy was implemented Monday in parts of other important cities such as Dalian, Nanjing, and Tianjin, which surround the capital.
Health experts in China have indicated that stricter restrictions are possible, as concerns grow over China's "zero-Covid" policy in the face of the highly infectious Omicron variant.
Medical authorities confirmed 2,300 new virus cases nationally on Monday, up from almost 3,400 the previous day, the biggest daily total in two years.
At a Monday press conference, Huang Qiang, a Shenzhen city official, said, "There have been numerous small-scale groups in urban villages and industries," he said.
"This is an indication that there is a high danger of community transmission and the requirement for more measures."
A Shenzhen resident uploaded photos to AFP showing housing compound entrances blocked by massive plastic barricades, while locals chuckled on social media about their rush to get computers and laptops from their offices before the lockdown.
Concerns about the effects of the virus spreading in Shenzhen—home to Foxconn, Huawei, and Tencent centers frightened investors on the Hong Kong exchange on Monday.
Residential areas and workplaces in certain neighborhoods in Shanghai, China's most populated metropolis, were blocked Monday as city authorities attempted to prevent a total lockdown.
On Monday, the city recorded over 170 new virus cases, causing concern among companies about the subsequent economic suffering.
A restaurant owner with four locations in various sections of Shanghai said he had to navigate a maze of ultra-restrictions, demonstrating how regular life in China is still turned upside down by a virus that the rest of the world has learned how to deal with.
Various districts have different policies, "he said to AFP while asking for confidentiality.
I really want to keep the close one while leaving the others open and see how it goes afterward. What else can I do but bite my teeth? "
Other major outbreaks of major population centers have consistently performed relatively poorly.
For the second day in a row, the Jilin region in China's northeast registered over 1,000 new cases, and officials reinforced restrictions Monday, banning locals from leaving their cities without police clearance.
Since the beginning of March, at least five places in the state have been closed down, including Changchun, the province's largest industrial center, whose nine million citizens were kept at home on Friday.
While the number of cases is small in global terms, it is highly concerning in China, where authorities have been ruthless in eliminating concentrations since early 2020.
According to state media, at least 26 authorities from three regions have been fired in recent days due to their handling of local epidemics.
China has so far been able to contain infrequent domestic outbreaks with a mix of emergency lockdowns, bulk testing, and travel bans, but the new outbreak is pushing the limits of its policy.
Although Omicron's low fatality rate, top medical expert and Chinese doctor Zhang Wenhong stated on Monday that China could ease its zero-COVID policy yet.
"It is damn critical for a country like China to continue to enforce the public COVID-Zero policy now," Dr. Zhang posted on his Twitter social media account.
However, this does not indicate that we will continue to use the lockdown and full testing technique continuously.
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