Residents of the Chinese capital emptied supermarket shelves on Friday and overwhelmed some delivery services as measures to cope with a spike in COVID-19 cases have fueled demand for food and other essentials, something the capital, Beijing, has not happened for months.
With COVID-19 cases hitting record daily highs, the country is once again introducing a series of strict measures under its “zero COVID” policy, including lockdowns, mass testing and quarantines for anyone suspected of coming into contact with the virus. virus.
The daily number of cases in China reached 32,695 on Friday. Of those, 1,860 were in Beijing, the majority of them asymptomatic.
Makeshift quarantine centers and field hospitals hastily erected in gymnasiums, exhibition centers and other large, open indoor spaces have become notorious for overcrowding, poor sanitation, scarce food supplies and lights left on for 24 hours.
Most residents of the city have already been advised not to leave their buildings, some of which are fenced off. At the entrances, workers dressed head-to-toe in white security suits stop unauthorized persons and make sure residents scan their health apps on their mobile phones to gain entry.
Some grocery delivery services in Beijing have reached capacity.
Deliveries reported slower than usual
An increase in demand coupled with labor shortages prevented some customers from reserving same-day slots for food and supplies from popular online grocery services such as Alibaba’s Freshippo and Meituan Maicai on Friday.
Online, some Chinese users said there were delivery drivers whose premises were locked down, adding to the labor shortage. The The US Express News could not independently confirm those reports.
Alibaba did not immediately comment.
At a Friday afternoon press conference, Xu Hejian, spokesman for the city government, said it was necessary “to strengthen the management and service guarantee” of quarantine centers and field hospitals where those who test positive for COVID-19 or have been in close contact with an infected person person is taken away by the police.
Authorities should “further accelerate” construction and “coordinate the allocation of space, facilities, materials, personnel and other resources,” Xu said.
Officials in recent days have repeatedly urged China to adhere to its tough “zero-COVID” policy that mandates lockdowns, mass testing and quarantines for anyone suspected of coming into contact with the virus. The policy is seen as taking a heavy toll on the economy and upsetting lives in many Chinese cities, prompting the World Health Organization and others to call for a change of tack — calls that the ruling Communist Party has angrily rejected.
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