Man looking at the closed subway station in Beijing.  (AP/Mark Schiefelbein)

Millions of people in Beijing worked from home on Monday, after the authorities reinforced the measures anticovidgiving the Chinese capital of 22 million people the image of a ghost town.

China has been fighting for two months to the worst epidemic outbreak since the beginning of 2020. Although the numbers of infections are minimal compared to the world level, the authorities strictly apply the “zero covid” policy and impose confinements in entire cities as soon as some cases are detected.

After Shanghai, the most populous city in the country confined since the beginning of April, Beijing has been under travel restrictions for a week and many public places (restaurants, cafes, gyms…) are closed.

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On Monday, the authorities strictly limited access to non-essential services in Chaoyang Districtthe most dynamic and populated of the capital.

The bustling commercial district of Sanlitun in eastern Beijing was deserted on Monday. The Apple store, for example, was ordered to close minutes after opening its doors.

“I don’t feel comfortable with so few people around me,” a cleaning worker named Wang told AFP, as she waited to enter the restaurant where she is employed. “I’m in charge of disinfection, I can’t work from home,” she added.

Man looking at the closed subway station in Beijing. (AP/Mark Schiefelbein) / Mark Schiefelbein

– Move to hotels –

Beijing on Monday announced 49 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours.

The health situation in the capital isserious and complicated”, told the press a city official, Xu Hejian, who urged the inhabitants not to leave Beijing except for compelling reasons.

Besides, anticovid test of less than 48 hours will be required to enter public placesfor example in supermarkets, as well as in office buildings.

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Some workers in the finance sector moved to hotels near their offices.

“Our company told us that we should try not to go home because they think there is risk in commuting,” said a Beijing investment manager who moved into a hotel not far from his workplace.

“Some of my friends were advised not to take public transport to work, and to go by car or bicycle,” he added.

Health workers in protective suits walk along a road in the Chaoyang district of Beijing, China.
Health workers in protective suits walk along a road in the Chaoyang district of Beijing, China. / EFE/EPA/MARK R. CRISTINO

in shanghaithe number of daily infections was below 4,000 on Monday, after having exceeded 25,000 at the end of April.

The current epidemic outbreak has killed more than 500 people in Shanghai, according to official data. In total, China has officially recorded about 5,000 deaths due to the virus since the start of the pandemic.

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After nearly 40 days of confinement and some food supply problems, the inhabitants of Shanghai begin to show their exasperation.

In the Zhuanqiao neighborhood, several residents confronted officials equipped with comprehensive anti-Covid protection this weekend, according to a video posted on social media.

“The police acted quickly to convince onlookers to disperse and bring calm,” local authorities reported.

Restriction measures in China have tightened.
Restriction measures in China have tightened. / HECTOR RETAMAL

“According to an investigation carried out on the spot, the rioters had enough food at home,” said the same sources.

The confinement in the Chinese economic capital, port of entry and exit of goods, has a great impact on the economy of the Asian giant.

Last month, China’s exports advanced at their lowest rate for almost two years (+3.9%).

Analysts contacted by the Bloomberg agency estimated that the slowdown would be more pronounced (+2.7%), after a rise of 14.7% in one year in March.

This is the worst increase in Chinese exports since June 2020 (+0.5%).

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