(Beijing) Millions of Beijing residents work from their homes Monday after a new round of anti-COVID-19 bolts, giving the Chinese capital of 22 million people the appearance of a ghost town.
Posted at 6:59
Updated at 7:37 am.
China is facing its worst epidemic wave in two months since the disease first broke out in early 2020.
Even if pollution numbers remain minimal on a global scale, authorities are rigorously implementing a zero-COVID-19 policy and restricting entire cities as soon as a few cases emerge.
After Shanghai, the country’s most populous city, which has been confined since the beginning of April, Beijing has been subject to travel restrictions for a week and closed many public places (restaurants, cafes, gyms, gyms, etc.).
On Monday, authorities severely restricted access to non-essential services in the capital’s most populous Chaoyang District, with some companies having to limit their regular workforce to 5%.
As a result, the busy Sanlitun business district in eastern Beijing was deserted on Monday morning. The very busy Apple Store was ordered to close within minutes of opening.
“I don’t feel comfortable with so few people around me,” a cleaner named Wang told AFP, waiting to enter the restaurant that hired her.
“I’m responsible for the disinfection, I can’t work from home.”
Reduce the risk
On Monday, Beijing announced 49 new cases of infection in the past 24 hours.
The city official, Xu Hejian, noted that the health situation in the capital is “serious and complicated,” and called on residents not to leave Beijing, except for force majeure reasons.
Screening tests of less than 48 hours will also be required to enter public places, particularly supermarkets, as well as office buildings.
A financial employee told AFP, on condition of anonymity, that his company had asked him to “avoid going back” to his home to reduce the risk of infection in transportation.
Elsewhere in Shanghai, the number of new infections fell below 4,000 on Monday, after passing 25,000 at the end of April.
The current outbreak has also killed more than 500 people in Shanghai, according to an official report. China’s total number has barely exceeded 5,000 officially since the beginning of the epidemic.
Some residents let their discontent show after 40 days of confinement, which was sometimes marked by supply problems.
In Zhuanqiao District over the weekend, residents clashed with officials in full underwear, according to a video posted on social media.
“The police moved as quickly as possible to convince the spectators to disperse and restore calm,” the local authorities said.
The same source emphasized that “according to the investigation carried out on the spot, the rioters had enough food at home.”
Experts have warned that China’s zero-COVID-19 policy, which involves frequent and widespread lockdowns and population screening, has also proven costly to the country’s economy.
According to the US Chamber of Commerce, a number of member firms in Shanghai remain closed, while others are questioning their investments in China, due to the restrictions.
House Speaker Colm Rafferty warned that the business world was “preparing for a massive exodus of foreign talent.”
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