As Omicron and Delta variant case numbers rise, China is reimposing COVID-19 lockdowns and travel restrictions in parts of the country.
The New York Times reported that two of China’s largest cities, Shenzhen and Shanghai, initiated stringent COVID protocols on Sunday that restrict the movements of city residents.
These lockdowns stand to further exasperate the ongoing disruption of global supply chains.
Shenzhen, a city along the border of the Hong Kong province, is the hub of China’s tech sector and is a magnet for electronics manufacturing. The city is going into a one-week lockdown in which all nonessential workers must stay home and adults must take three PCR COVID tests.
Public transit systems in Shenzhen have been closed, but supermarkets, farmers’ markets, pharmacies, medical institutions, and express delivery services will be allowed to continue operating.
Shanghai halted its intercity bus service but stopped short of ordering a whole-city lockdown.
Shenzhen and Shanghai officials have barred their residents from leaving either city unless it is deemed necessary, and even then, residents must present a negative PCR test to the government.
Both cities are reporting fewer than 100 cases of COVID-19. Shenzhen reported 66 cases, and Shanghai reported 65 cases on Sunday. In some of the infected, symptoms are apparent, which means they have an increased chance of passing the virus to other people.
In February, Shenzhen took steps to limit the spread of COVID from truck drivers. City officials reportedly took measures to prevent truck drivers from bringing infectious diseases into the Chinese mainland from Hong Kong, where there is currently a massive outbreak of the virus.
On Sunday, according to Reuters, Hong Kong health authorities reported 32,430 new cases of COVID-19.
Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam said that the government was taking steps to reach out to the 300,000 people in Hong Kong who are isolated at home.
She said, “With so many people put under isolation or quarantine, the government has been strengthening our capability to support them. However, we’re still catching up.”
Lam said she could not comfortably say whether virus numbers had peaked in this recent outbreak.
ABC News reported that as of Friday, more than 3,000 Hong Kong residents had died in the province’s current wave of COVID.
Many users of Weibo, a Chinese social media network, blame Hong Kong for the outbreak of COVID-19 in Shenzhen due to the province’s hesitance to implement wide sweeping lockdowns like those seen in mainland China.