February 1, 2023

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‘Colossal’ pressure on Shanghai to stay COVID-free as lockdown ends nearing

'Colossal' pressure on Shanghai to stay COVID-free as lockdown ends nearing
  • Shanghai health authorities warn of the risks of a coronavirus rebound
  • Some migrant workers are looking forward to leaving Shanghai
  • Goldman lowers its forecast for China’s GDP, warns of further slippage
  • E-commerce giant JD.com says consumers are losing confidence

SHANGHAI/BEIJING (Reuters) – Health authorities in Shanghai have faced “tremendous” pressure to keep China’s most populous city free of COVID-19 as residents began counting down the days to June 1 when their lockdown was due to end nearly two days later. months of isolation.

The mall of 25 million people had a fourth consecutive day without any new infections in the community, maintaining its “zero COVID” privileged status and keeping hopes of an imminent end to the misery of lockdown.

Although there are no new cases, the authorities are not lifting the closure immediately, instead easing restrictions gradually until the beginning of next month, with some stores allowed to open their doors this week, and public transport is expected to partially resume over the weekend.

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Residents of apartment complexes across Shanghai have been granted permits that allow one person per household to go outside for a few hours at a time. Some can only go out twice a week and only a few streets from their home.

To enter the supermarket, they also need a permit from the store.

“The risk of finding positive infections among the at-risk groups still exists and the pressure… to prevent a recovery is still huge,” Zhao Dandan of the municipal health commission told reporters on Wednesday.

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The government of Shanghai’s Zhuhui District has posted photos on its social media account of workers planting flowers beside largely deserted streets to ensure a “clean and beautiful” environment for “the resumption of work and production in the city”.

But piles of rubbish spilled onto roads in the central Changning district, and photos posted online showed weeds covering steps outside Apple and Versace stores in a once-bustling shopping district, signs of how the city has struggled to maintain services during lockdown.

Reuters was not immediately able to verify the photos.

As part of the gradual reopening, Shanghai authorities have released a list of 864 financial institutions that can resume operations, three people familiar with the matter said. Read more

Social media posts showed long lines of people, mostly migrant workers, outside one of the city’s main railway stations, looking to return home after obtaining permission to exit.

Some have been photographed hauling their bags on rented bikes or taking long walks from far corners of the city.

The United States, Europe and other regions have lifted restrictions in order to “live with the virus” and keep their economies going even as infections spread, betting that high vaccination rates will protect their populations.

But China has chosen a radically different path, ruthlessly restricting movement and isolating people to end any outbreak, no matter the economic cost.

Defeating the highly transmissible Omicron variant has proven to be an uphill battle, as the conflict in the capital, Beijing, over the past month has demonstrated.

Overall, Shanghai reported less than 1,000 new cases on May 17, and none were from outside the quarantine areas. Beijing recorded 69 cases, up from 52.

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The capital has been discovering dozens of new cases almost every day since April 22.

While most Beijing residents are working from home, they can at least get outside, albeit with few places to go, as many shops, gyms and other businesses have closed.

“I’m glad we’re not as confined at home as in Shanghai, but we’re still very disappointed with what’s going on, as most countries have already gone from COVID,” said Lin Kong, 27, who lives in Beijing’s Chaoyang District.

Lost Income and Trust

China’s tough strategy to fight the coronavirus has put hundreds of millions of people in dozens of cities under restrictions of sorts and hampered a global recovery in production of everything from cell phones to electric cars.

Apple companies (AAPL.O) to Tesla (TSLA.O) received a blow.

E-commerce giant JD.com (9618.HK) On Tuesday, it said it was cautious about its outlook, as consumers are losing income and confidence and logistics are disrupted. Read more

Data this week showed Chinese consumption and factory production fell in April at a pace not seen since early 2020, as the spread of COVID, which was first detected in the city of Wuhan in late 2019, began.

Meanwhile, new home prices fell last month for the first time since December.

Goldman Sachs on Wednesday cut its 2022 economic growth forecast for China to 4% from 4.5%, well below the government’s official target of around 5.5%, and warned it could fall further.

“This lower growth forecast includes the assumption that COVID is mostly under control going forward, that the property market is improving from here, and the government is providing substantial policy balancing,” the bank’s analysts said in a note.

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“While the risks to our central outlook are two-sided, the tail may be fatter to the downside.”

Chinese stocks (.CSI300)And (.SSEC) The yuan fell as bonds continued to face capital outflows.

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(Reporting by David Stanway, Brenda Goh, Winnie Zoe and Casey Hall in Shanghai; Martin Quinn Pollard, Weifan Wang, and Eduardo Baptista in Beijing; Beijing and Shanghai offices; Written by Marius Zacharia and John Gedi; Editing by Tomasz Janowski

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.