DALIAN, China — More than 20% of China’s population is currently under some form of coronavirus-related restrictions, as the country stays the course on its strict “zero-COVID” policy despite the economic cost.
As of Sept. 6, lockdowns or other movement restrictions were in place in 49 cities, covering 291.7 million people, according to Nomura International (Hong Kong).
Authorities in the northeastern city of Dalian have ordered residents in a major downtown business district to stay home. The restrictions originally were to run from Aug. 30 to Sept. 3. But the city decided on Sept. 10 to extend them again, and the lockdown is now expected to last until around Saturday.
“I just want to walk outside,” said a frustrated office worker in her 30s.
Chengdu imposed a lockdown on its entire population of roughly 21 million from Sept. 1 to Sept. 4, but some areas remain under stay-at-home orders as the southwestern city struggles to stamp out the virus.
The port hub of Tianjin, near Beijing, remains partially locked down and has conducted rounds of PCR testing for all of its 13.7 million residents since late August. COVID-19 outbreaks have triggered lockdowns in some areas of the Tibet Autonomous Region including the capital, Lhasa.
Even trucks carrying essential goods face restrictions on entering closed-off areas, leaving some residents without enough food or other necessities.
A deputy mayor of the Nanming District in the southern city of Guiyang held a news conference to apologize for shortages, citing his own “inexperience,” according to local media. Residents of Yining in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region have posted on the microblogging service Weibo about their lack of food.
China’s National Health Commission reported over 900 domestically transmitted COVID-19 cases on both Saturday and Sunday. The strict policy is expected to continue ahead of a key Communist Party congress in October.
Goldman Sachs in August cut its 2022 economic growth forecast for China to 3% from 3.3%, citing the dual headwinds of the coronavirus and electricity shortages amid this summer’s brutal heat wave.