BEIJING: Supermarket delivery apps in Beijing are overwhelmed as the rise in the number of Covid cases in the city triggers lockdown-like restrictions in swathes of the Chinese capital.
Beijing recorded 1,854 new infections on Thursday, down from 1,611 on Wednesday, as the wider outbreak in China hits record highs. Delivery apps like Alibaba Group Holding Ltd’s Freshippo – known as Hema in Chinese – and Walmart Inc’s Sam’s Club lacked capacity to deliver on Thursday, and other grocery stores in Chaoyang, Beijing’s largest district, no longer taking orders.
The rise in cases, which has risen from less than 100 infections a day a fortnight ago, leads to tightened controls in the city of 22 million, with apartment buildings in Chaoyang locked down and residents invited not to leave Beijing unless necessary.
Still, officials are approaching the restrictions more discreetly, communicating through neighborhood committees and WeChat groups rather than official announcements, potentially to minimize the disruption caused after top Chinese leaders ordered a more targeted approach to contain Covid two weeks ago. A new 20-point virus playbook for officials advised against citywide lockdowns and mass testing drills, among other changes, but proved difficult to implement amid the surge in cases.
Schools in a number of Beijing districts have been closed, with students able to learn from home, and anyone entering the capital is required to provide a negative PCR test result taken within the previous 48 hours before entering. in public places or boarding buses.
Beijing appears to be locking down building by building rather than issuing a sweeping order, an approach mirrored in some other major cities. Localized lockdowns in Chongqing, a strategically important city in southwestern China, mean the metropolis is largely in lockdown, despite the absence of any radical order or directive.
Other cities had to revert to the old playbook as cases spread through communities. Zhengzhou, home to the world’s largest iPhone factory, will effectively shut down from Friday for five days. Shijiazhuang, a city near Beijing that facilitated a series of tests following the new guidelines, had to backtrack within days and ask people to stay at home.
Officials must balance the twin imperatives of being less disruptive with their restrictions while continuing to suppress the virus, in line with Chinese policy. Covid Zero Politics. As health officials and state media continue to reinforce the need to adhere to ‘dynamic zero’, authorities have struggled to bring outbreaks under control without their usual toolbox as cold weather descends and that more contagious virus variants are circulating.

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