Panic-buying sweeps Beijing as surge in cases sparks fear of lockdown

Panic-buying sweeps Beijing as surge in cases sparks fear of hard lockdown and authorities admit the situation is ‘grim’

  • Fears of a hard lockdown because of a Covid outbreak in Beijing sparked panic-buying in the capital today
  • Long queues formed outside makeshift Covid testing sites in downtown Beijing’s biggest district Chaoyang 
  • China was already trying to contain infections in Shanghai, which has been mostly locked down for weeks 
  • A mass testing order and warnings of a ‘grim’ Covid situation had sparked a run on Beijing’s supermarkets 

Fears of a hard Covid lockdown sparked panic-buying in Beijing as long queues formed on Monday in a large central district for mass testing ordered by the Chinese authorities.

China was already trying to contain a wave of infections in its largest city Shanghai, which has been almost entirely locked down for weeks and reported 51 new Covid deaths on Monday.

Shanghai has struggled to provide fresh food to those confined at home, while patients have reported trouble accessing non-Covid medical care.

The rising cases in the capital have triggered fears of a similar lockdown. Downtown Beijing’s biggest district Chaoyang is home to around 3.5 million people and hosts the headquarters of many multinational firms and embassies.

The area ordered mass testing from Monday for residents and those coming to work there.

Queues snaked around shopping malls and outside office complexes on Monday as people waited to be swabbed for samples by health workers in protective gear.

A customer wearing a face mask shops next to near-empty shelves at a supermarket following the coronavirus disease outbreak in Chaoyang district of Beijing, China April 24

The rising cases in the capital have triggered fears of a lockdown. Pictured: People shop at a supermarket in Beijing on April 25

Customers wearing face masks wait in line to enter a supermarket following the coronavirus disease  outbreak in Chaoyang district of Beijing, China April 24

People purchase food at a supermarket in Beijing, China, April 25. The city reported 41 new COVID-19 cases among students and tour group senior people in the last 72 hours

Health authorities in Beijing said infection risks remained high with the number of cases expected to increase in the following days. Pictured: People wait in line to be tested for the Covid-19 coronavirus at a swab collection site in Beijing on April 25

Fears of a Covid lockdown sparked panic-buying and long queues for mass testing in Beijing on April 25

People living and working in downtown Beijing’s biggest district Chaoyang lined up to be tested on Monday. The area is home to 3.5 million people

A medical worker in a protective suit takes a swab sample from a person at a makeshift nucleic acid testing site, during a mass testing for the coronavirus disease following the outbreak in Beijing on April 25

People in masks queued up to be tested for coronavirus at a swab collection site in Beijing on April 25

Office worker Yao Leiming, 25, went to a testing site in Chaoyang with a group of his colleagues.

He said: ‘If a single case is found, this area could be affected,’ said 

The mass testing order and warnings of a ‘grim’ Covid situation in the city sparked a run on Beijing’s supermarkets on Sunday as residents rushed to stockpile essentials.

People were seen pushing shopping carts stacked with food, while many items were sold out on grocery delivery apps, especially for deliveries to Chaoyang.

Many of the capital’s fitness studios and gyms have also cancelled classes or closed.

Beijing has also imposed tight controls on entry to the city, with travellers required to have a negative Covid test from within 48 hours.

China has been struggling to defeat its worst outbreak in two years with its zero-Covid policy, which includes strict lockdowns, mass testing and travel restrictions.

Officials say this policy has helped China avoid the large-scale public health disasters seen elsewhere in the world during the Covid crisis.

However, the approach has taken a heavy toll on businesses and public morale in China

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