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As COVID surges in Beijing, residents clear grocery shelves

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Customers shop in front of a half-empty freezer for diary products, following the COVID-19 outbreak in Beijing, China, April 25, 2022.

A new COVID-19 outbreak in Beijing is raising fears that China’s capital could be sent into a hard lockdown, like the one in Shanghai that’s entering a fifth week.

Beijing residents are stocking up and clearing shelves, despite authorities telling residents there are enough supplies to go around.

About 3.5 million residents in Beijing’s affluent Chaoyang district, which includes the central business district, will have to undergo mandatory mass testing three times this week to contain a spike in cases, with 70 infections reported citywide there since Friday.

China’s daily cases rose 4% to 20,194 on Monday, most of them in Shanghai. The city has now recorded 506,000 infections since the start of March.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, who has put his personal stamp on China’s “Zero Covid” strategy, defended his government’s approach as recently as last Thursday, when he delivered a keynote speech via video to the Boao Forum for Asia, China’s answer to the Davos forum.

“Safety and health are the prerequisite for human development and progress. For humanity to clinch the final victory against the Covid-19 pandemic, more hard efforts are needed,” he said.

The Chinese leader has made it clear before that he wants to keep the capital city COVID-free. A lockdown in Beijing would add political strain to a strategy of which the economic and social costs are growing by the day.


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