Shanghai hunkers down for final Covid-19 battle

SHANGHAI/BEIJING (REUTERS) – Shanghai is tightening its Covid-19 lockdown for what it hopes would be the final week of its battle with the virus before it can gradually begin to ease restrictions, while Beijing continues to fight its much smaller but persistent outbreak.

China’s commercial hub of 25 million hopes to come out of its six-week-old lockdown later this month. The authorities on Saturday (May 14) were hoping one last round of tightening would eradicate the last infections of the country’s worst Covid-19 outbreak of the pandemic.

Many residents of the nation’s most populous city, allowed to leave their housing compounds about a week ago for short walks or quick grocery trips, have more recently received notices to stay indoors for a three-day “silent” period.

Many buildings were told overnight that restriction would be extended until Friday. Going silent usually means residents cannot leave home and, in some cases, it can mean no deliveries.

Ms Linette Lim, who has spent more than 40 days under lockdown, said her community received such a notice on Friday, a day after its official risk levels was lowered to a grade that in theory should have led to looser restrictions.

“It’s very frustrating because everyone has been asked to make sacrifices, to overcome the present difficulties for the collective good, and people have been consistently complying and coping with whatever is thrown at them,” she said.

“But somehow the goalposts keep shifting,” said Ms Lim. “Nerves are frayed and people have no end goal to look forward to.”

Closing quarantine centres

Hundreds of millions in dozens of Chinese cities live under Covid-19 curbs of various degrees. The measures are hurting consumption and manufacturing in the world’s second-biggest economy, and disrupting global trade and supply chains.

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Some analysts expect the economy to shrink this quarter.

Officials have promised more stimulus measures.

China will offer subsidies, tax breaks and easier loans to boost prospects for college graduates, the Cabinet said on Friday, as a record 10.76 million are set to finish college and enter the workforce this year in a weaker economy.

China’s jobless rate hit its highest in nearly two years in March at 5.8 per cent, while youth unemployment was 16 per cent, the highest since July 2021.


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