Some residents worked from home, and many filled up with food as a safeguard against the possibility that they could be locked up indoors, as has happened in several cities, including Shanghai’s financial center. The city of Anyang in central China and Dandong on the border with North Korea were the latest to start shutdowns as the Omicron variant spreads across the vast country of 1.4 billion people.
Shanghai, which has been shut down for more than two weeks, reported more than 19,000 new infections and 51 deaths in the past 24-hour period, pushing the announced death toll from the ongoing outbreak to 138.
Beijing residents snatched rice, noodles, vegetables and other foods as long queues formed in supermarkets and store workers rushed to rebuild some empty shelves. State media issued reports saying supplies remained plentiful despite the rise in purchases.
Shoppers seemed worried but were not yet panicked. A woman with two bags of vegetables, eggs and frozen dumplings said she bought a little more than usual. One man said he is not worried but is just cautious as he has a 2-year-old daughter.
Beijing health authorities said 29 new cases had been identified within 24 hours to 1 p.m. 16 Monday, raising the total to 70 since Friday.
The city has ordered mass tests across the sprawling Chaoyang district, where 46 of the cases have been found. The 3.5 million residents of Chaoyang, as well as people working in the district, are to be tested on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Test sites were set up overnight and early in the morning in Chaoyang at residential complexes and office buildings around the district. Residents and workers lined up at the temporary outdoor stations to get a quick throat sampling of a worker in full protective gear. The test is free.
“I think Beijing should be fine,” Gao Haiyang said as he waited in line for a Covid-19 test. “Based on the previous response from my community, if there is an emergency, I think supply can be guaranteed. Plus there were lessons we learned from other cities. I think we can make good preparations.”
Shanghai has tensed under a strict lockdown that has driven residents to band together to get food delivered through group purchases. Goods are backed up in the port of Shanghai, which has affected supplies and factory production and poses an obstacle to economic growth.
Beijing locked residents inside an area of about 2 times 3 kilometers (1 times 2 miles), and told them to work from home and stay in their residential areas. It was not a total lockdown, but cinemas, karaoke bars and other entertainment venues were ordered closed.
Elsewhere, the city also closed some or all of the buildings in five residential complexes, adding to others that were locked down on Sunday.