Photo Credit: Ryan Hesketh | Bloomberg
The zero-Covid policy of China is once again manifesting in its southern region. The city of Shenzen closed its largest market for electronics after authorities detected Covid-infected persons in the area. Public transportation has also been suspended, and officials have imposed a ban among neighborhoods.
In the Futian district, several areas have been under close watch by the country’s health departments, including Huaqiangbei. The place is known to be a hot pot for individuals wanting to buy essentials for their electronic devices, as numerous stalls that sell computer components, mobile parts, and microchips are found there.
Mandatory lockdowns have already been in place in areas in China’s south following the development. Authorities forbid citizens to go outside their homes except when they undergo Covid testing, which they do every day until Thursday.
As a result, businesses have been hard hit. A four-day lockdown in the Futian district would mean a loss of income for companies. Only essential facilities, like pharmacies, hospitals, and supermarkets, have been left operating. Other stores are temporarily shut down. Restaurants are closed, and people can only do take-outs.
China’s extreme fight against Covid
Among the nations worldwide, China has been very careful in dealing with the pandemic, most especially because the breakout started in the country. The zero-covid policy of China features massive testing, quarantines, immediate lockdowns, digital surveillance, and strict protocols.
Even economic hubs like Beijing are not exempt from China’s desire to thwart the virus as soon as it is detected. In Shenzen, where over 18 million people reside, only 35 cases were enough for authorities to pull the strings and halt all operations. Of the 35 recently reported cases, 11 are asymptomatic.
The Luohu and Longgang districts have also forced leisure places and parks to close in the wake of the small outbreak. In addition, large crowd gatherings are currently forbidden, as well as shows, conferences, and performances. Meanwhile, a total of 24 subway stations and hundreds of bus stations are currently not operational.
According to the officials from Shenzen, they are wary of the variant that made its way to the district as it is a new subvariant of the Omicron BF.15. Authorities said that this variant is harder to detect and spreads faster than its predecessors.
“The upcoming period will be the most stressful, high-risk and grim period for epidemic prevention and control in our city.”
Outbreaks are happening in many areas of China
Just as the economy seemed to recover in China, the new variants of the Omicron presented another challenge to the country’s major hubs. Moreover, since the country commits itself to a zero-Covid policy, it is expected that lockdowns will become frequent as more infected individuals are discovered.
Lockdowns in China are like a tug-of-war. In Beijing, China had to repeatedly impose lockdowns because of the fluctuating number of cases. For instance, when the cases decline, the hubs would open. However, if a case is detected, authorities will automatically declare strict lockdown protocols.
The unending imposition of China’s anti-Covid protocols has undoubtedly caused damage to individuals, businesses, and the country as a whole. Youth unemployment in the country hit an all-time high last July.
The scorching heat adds more problem
The response to Covid is more problematic than ever because of the intense heat that the country is experiencing. Many regions in China have already been afflicted by heat waves, causing crops to die. Moreover, power shortages have led to blackouts.
Consequently, people who waited in line to be administered the vaccine had to suffer from the intense heat. Millions of residents wait in snaking lines in front of Covid-testing centers, enduring the blazing temperature caused by heat waves.
“China’s electricity demand has been incredibly flat in the past because so much of it has come from the industry, not from households or services. Now with air conditioning becoming more common, the demand is becoming higher,” said Lauri Myllyvirta, a lead analyst at the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air in Finland.
“At the same time, rains are becoming more errant. Heavy rains and periods of drought make hydropower much less reliable as a source of available capacity during those peaks.”