Over 291 mn people in 49 Chinese cities impacted by Covid lockdowns: Report

Updated on Sep 07, 2022 05:57 PM IST

A top Chinese government official said there’s no backing down from the policy despite rising economic costs, worsened by widespread droughts, and frequent disruptions to normal life

Residents standing behind a cordon line shop at a fruit stall amid Covid-19 outbreak, in Tianshan district of Urumqi, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, China. (REUTERS)
Residents standing behind a cordon line shop at a fruit stall amid Covid-19 outbreak, in Tianshan district of Urumqi, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, China. (REUTERS)

BEIJING: Over 291 million people in 49 Chinese cities are facing Covid-19-related lockdowns or containment measures, a report by the investment bank Nomura has said.

Local governments across China are implementing the country’s ‘zero-Covid’ policy with lockdowns, restrictions on movements and mass tests as small outbreaks mushroom in cities and counties.

A top government official on Wednesday said there’s no backing down from the policy despite rising economic costs, worsened by widespread droughts, and frequent disruptions to normal life.

“Dynamic Covid-zero policy is based on early detection of symptoms and putting people’s lives first…the policy allows China to bring infections quickly under control at lower social cost. Threats from Covid-19 still exist and China must remain unwavering to its current pandemic control measures,” Chang Jile, vice-administrator of the National Disease Control and Prevention Administration said on Wednesday.

“This requirement from central authorities is unchanged,” Chang said.

China remains the only major economy to follow the zero-Covid policy with much of the world opting to move away from lockdowns and restrictions.

The Nomura report released on Tuesday, however, paints a grim picture.

“According to the government statistics and our own survey, as of September 6, 49 cities are currently implementing various levels of lockdowns or some kind of district-based control measures,” the Nomura report said.

“We estimate around 291.7 million individuals are currently affected by these measures, up from 161.3 million in the previous week, in regions that account for around RMB 28 trillion of the country’s total GDP (previous week: RMB 17.9 trillion),” the report said

“These 49 cities make up 20.7% of China’s population (previous week: 11.4%) and 24.5% of China’s GDP (previous week: 15.7%).”

“The picture is not pretty, as China continues to battle the broadest wave of Covid infections thus far. Chengdu, a mega city with a population of 21mn, announced a three-day extension of city-wide mass testing and lockdowns, while Shenzhen, the largest city in South China with a population of 18mn, ordered its residents to stay at home over the past weekend,” the report, compiled by Nomura’s economists, said.

“The recent Covid situation has deteriorated to worse than even our cautious views from just three weeks ago,” it added.

Until last weekend, seven cities with residents under lockdown were capitals of provinces or autonomous regions - Chengdu, Lhasa, Xining, Urumqi, Shijiazhuang, Guiyang and Harbin, pointed out the Caixin news portal, adding that the northern municipality of Tianjin, located close to Beijing, also put two of its 16 districts under lockdown.

The southwestern city of Chengdu, where most of the 21.2 million residents have been under a lockdown since last Thursday, has not announced when the curbs will be lifted.

Local authorities across China are sending out advisories asking residents not to leave their cities and homes during the upcoming holidays for the Mid-Autumn Festival.

The Chinese mainland on Wednesday reported 1,570 cases for Tuesday comprising 323 locally transmitted confirmed Covid-19 cases and 1,247 local asymptomatic ones, the national health commission, said.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Sutirtho Patranobis has been in Beijing since 2012, as Hindustan Times’ China correspondent. He was previously posted in Colombo, Sri Lanka, where he covered the final phase of the civil war and its aftermath. Patranobis covered several beats including health and national politics in Delhi before being posted abroad.

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