China has imposed blockades on two of the largest cities, Beijing and Shanghai, to completely eradicate the outbreak of Covid19. This is the twin engine that underpins most of the country’s economy.
Shanghai is the centre of recent outbreaks, reporting more than 10,000 new cases daily. Authorities responded with a city-wide blockade that lasted for weeks, trapping almost every 25 million residents of the once vibrant financial hub in their homes and neighbourhoods.
Meanwhile, Beijing authorities are conducting mass trials, closing schools and selectively blocking some homes to control the infection. These measures have raised fears of a broader blockade similar to Shanghai. During the pandemic, China has adhered to a rigorous ZeroCovid strategy, using blockades, mass inspections, quarantines, and border closures to contain the virus.
However, the arrival of highly infectious variants of Omicron raises questions about the sustainability of this strategy, as the virus spreads to different cities and regions faster than it can be contained by the government.
Authorities are currently implementing full or partial blockades in at least 27 cities across the country, with these limits affecting up to 165 million people, according to CNN calculations.