China’s caseloads are tiny fractions of what major cities around the world have come to shrug off, as most countries lift restrictions to “live with the virus” even though infections are still spreading.
China is bucking the global trend and has doubled down on its “zero COVID” policy, putting hundreds of millions of people in dozens of cities under movement curbs, causing significant economic damage and disruption to international trade and supply chains.
But China says it is saving lives.
It points to the 1 million COVID-19 deaths in the United States, and many more millions elsewhere, while its official toll since the beginning of the pandemic is just over 5,000.
The head of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said this week China’s policy was “not sustainable”, prompting an angry rebuke from Beijing and censorship of his “irresponsible” comments.
The capital, Beijing, reported 46 new COVID-19 cases for May 11, up from 37.
Late on Wednesday, Beijing announced the suspension of taxis and ride hailing services in parts of Chaoyang district, Beijing’s largest and the epicentre of its outbreak, and two other districts.
Authorities there have banned dine-in services at restaurants, closed some malls, entertainment and tourist venues, suspended sections of its bus and subway systems and imposed lockdowns on some residential buildings.
Having tightened restrictions earlier in its outbreak, Beijing is faring much better than Shanghai did at this point in its latest outbreak.
In an apartment building in Shanghai’s central Jing’an district, residents were told once again they cannot leave their flats after being allowed out last week to walk around the compound.
“As restrictive as it was, those 10 minutes of freedom, being able to get some fresh air outside my building and walk my dog, kept my sanity,” building resident Stephanie Sam, 27, said on the WeChat social media site.
The re-tightening of curbs has “taken away the last slither of hope I had about this dystopian nightmare ending anytime soon”, she said.
The district has reported zero community cases and, like other areas in the city, has entered what authorities call “silent management mode”.
That usually means boards or fences around buildings, deliveries forbidden, and residents once again confined to their homes.