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Shenzhen eases lockdown as pandemic eats away at Chinese economy

BEIJING

Southern China’s tech powerhouse Shenzhen has partially eased lockdown measures, after President Xi Jinping stressed the need to “minimize the impact” of the coronavirus pandemic on the country’s economy.

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The city of 17.5 million, which has been in total lockdown since Sunday, has resumed work, factory operations and public transportation in four districts and a special economic zone, the Shenzhen government said Thursday.
These areas have “achieved zero-Covid momentum in the community,” he added.
China reported 4,365 new infections nationwide on Friday, according to National Health Commission data, as the country battles a nationwide surge of Omicron, its worst coronavirus outbreak since the start of 2020.
Millions of people remain stranded across the country, many under hyper-local restrictions aimed at stifling clusters as they emerge without shutting down entire cities.

Since the start of the pandemic, China has stuck firmly to a “dynamic zero-Covid” strategy, through targeted lockdowns, mass testing and travel restrictions – an approach that has left it more increasingly isolated in a world adjusting to the pandemic.
However, frequent virus shutdowns affecting major ports and industrial cities have dampened the country’s economic growth, leading Beijing to announce the lowest GDP target in decades earlier this month of 5.5%. .
The new measures in Shenzhen were introduced to balance “epidemic prevention and control with economic and social development”, said a notice from the city’s virus response command center.
Shenzhen is home to supply chains for major companies that make everything from iPhones to washing machines, while some of China’s biggest tech companies also have campuses in the city.
The port of Yantian, whose three-week closure last summer due to an epidemic exacerbated global delivery delays, is included in one of the districts where measures have been eased.

The notice adds that Shenzhen’s epidemic situation “remains serious, but is generally controllable” and that the city has carried out two rounds of mass virus testing on its population.
Shenzhen-based iPhone maker Foxconn’s factories temporarily closed earlier this week due to virus lockdowns, triggering a sell-off in Hong Kong-listed Chinese tech stocks.
The measures came after Xi referenced the spiraling economic costs of China’s zero-Covid strategy at a Politburo meeting on Thursday where he pledged to “stick” to the approach. , saying that “perseverance is victory”.
So far, eight Shenzhen officials have been fired for their negligent handling of the outbreak, according to a notice posted on the city’s official Weibo account on Friday.
Shenzhen reported 105 new cases on Friday, according to National Health Commission figures.

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