The inhabitants of some parts of the capital of China They emptied supermarket shelves and cluttered delivery apps Friday as the city government ordered construction of quarantine centers and temporary COVID-19 hospitals to speed up.
Uncertainty and scattered and unconfirmed reports of lockdowns in at least some Beijing districts have boosted demand for food and other supplies, something the city hasn’t seen in months.
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Unusually large numbers of shoppers in the city’s northern suburbs left market shelves empty, but customers were relatively few in the center of the city of 21 million, where supplies remained plentiful.
Daily COVID-19 cases across the country are reaching record levels, with 32,695 reported on Friday. Of those, 1,860 were in Beijing, most of them asymptomatic.
Makeshift quarantine centers and hastily assembled temporary hospitals in gyms, exhibition centers and other venues have gained a notoriety for overcrowding, lack of hygiene, food shortages and 24-hour lights on.
Many city residents have already been advised not to leave their residential compounds, some of which are being fenced off. At the entrances, workers covered from head to toe in white protective suits prevent unauthorized persons from entering and ensure that residents show recent proof of COVID-19 with a negative result in the health applications of his cell phone to be able to enter.
Several college campuses have been closed and freshman students are being given virtual classes.
Meanwhile, some of the grocery delivery services in Beijing have reached their limits.
A surge in demand, coupled with a shortage of workers, prevented some customers from scheduling same-day deliveries of food and other supplies at popular grocery services such as Alibaba’s Freshippo and Meituan Maicai on Friday.
Some Chinese users said online that some delivery employees were unable to work because their districts were on lockdown. Reports could not be verified.
Alibaba had no immediate comment.
At a press conference on Friday, Xu Hejian, spokesman for the municipal government, said it was necessary “strengthen the operation and service guarantee” of the quarantine centers and temporary hospitals where people who test positive are taken by the police COVID-19 or have been in close contact with an infected person.
The authorities mustaccelerate more” its construction and “coordinate the distribution of space, facilities, materials, personnel and other resources”Xu said.
In recent days, the authorities have repeatedly insisted that China must maintain its policy of “zero covid”, which imposes lockdowns, mass testing and quarantines for anyone suspected of having been in contact with the virus. This policy is seen as severely affecting the economy and disrupting life in many Chinese cities, prompting the World Health Organization and other organizations to call for a change of course, something the Communist Party has angrily rejected.