Shanghai Lockdown Expanded To Cover Entire City As China's Worst Outbreak In 2 Years Drags On

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by Tyler Durden
Sunday, Apr 03, 2022 - 01:00 AM

Unfortunately for the CCP bureaucrats in charge of China's largest city, the punishing 9-day staggered lockdown imposed late last month on Shanghai has failed to suppress the omicron driven outbreak in the city. Instead,  cases have continued to rise, prompting authorities to expand the scope of what was supposed to be a short-lived staggered freeze to cover the city's entire population.

The eastern half of Shanghai remains under tight movement restrictions even after a four-day lockdown was supposed to have ended Friday morning. This means the entire city of roughly 26 million is currently under some form of restrictions as the lockdown in the western half of the city begins, Bloomberg reports.

While the lockdown of Shanghai’s east officially ended at 5 a.m. local time Friday, most residents were not able to leave their homes immediately under what the local government described as a tiered quarantine regime.

People with mild or no symptoms are required to be put under compulsory central quarantine for treatment or monitoring at mostly makeshift facilities built in massive gymnasiums or exhibition centers around the city. If parents with young kids are sent to central quarantine, authorities will try to help find volunteers or staff to look after the children left behind, Zeng Qun, deputy head of Shanghai Civil Affairs Bureau said at a briefing.

The rules also required anyone living in a building where a Covid case has been reported to stay confined in their home for two weeks. Residents of other buildings in the same compound as the block where a positive patient was reported will be subject to seven-day home quarantine.

Thanks to these "targeted" restrictions, nearly all of the nearly 9 million residents living in the eastern half of Shanghai were still subject to some form of COVID restrictions. Nearly 40% of Saturday’s newly reported infections in the city came from Pudong, the eastern part.

Now that the outbreak in Jilin Province has subsided (a punishing multi-week lockdown in that province has finally been lifted), Shanghai has emerged as the epicenter of China’s worst virus outbreak since the early days of the pandemic. The financial center's daily case count has surged from less than five at the beginning of March to a peak of more than 6,300 on Friday.

"At present, the epidemic situation is severe and complex, and the task of prevention and control is extremely arduous," Wu Qianyu, an official at the Shanghai municipal health commission, said at a media briefing.

To be sure, it's likely that the increase in new cases is a result of further screening. Authorities tested more than 14 million people in the western half of the city Friday as part of two-round tests.

Last month, President Xi Jinping instructed local authorities to take a more nuanced approach to combating COVID. While preserving human life must remainthe priority, the president urged policy makers to embrace more "targeted" measures - including an increase in testing and locally-focused lockdowns on residential complexes where cases had been confirmed.

But the continuing spread of the virus in Shanghai is the biggest test yet of Xi's plan to preserve economic growth without sacrificing lives. Amid reports of deaths of old folks homes and a surge in medical emergencies, local public health authorities have ordered hospitals and clinics across the city to reopen emergency wards amid reports that people were being denied access to treatment during the lockdown. There has even been a case of one individual dying after being turned away from a hospital due to COVID protocols, according to the SCMP.

Meanwhile, authorities have employed robot emissaries like this robot dog to bark instructions at local residents as the citywide testing campaign continues.

While millions of Chinese will likely suffer as the government scrambles to provide enough food, medicine and other emergency supplies to the increasingly desperate population, there's one individual who stands to benefit: President Joe Biden. Assuming news of the tighter lockdown sends crude oil prices lower, Biden might be able to take credit, given the timing of the SPR release announcement earlier this week (although few sell-side analysts expect the decision to have a meaningful impact on prices long term).