China extends lockdown in parts of Chengdu, expands mass testing

BEIJING – China extended its lockdown in districts of western megacity Chengdu and ordered more mass testing there from Sunday as it tries to contain a Covid-19 outbreak.

Chengdu’s central Jinjiang district will further intensify lockdowns and extend control measures for at least three days starting from Sunday, authorities said in a statement. Other districts also announced a third round of Covid-19 tests on Sunday.

People should return home immediately after being tested, the officials said. Chengdu’s lockdown, which started on Thursday, demonstrates China’s commitment to its Covid Zero approach despite the huge economic loss it has triggered.

The nation’s sixth-largest city is the biggest to be closed off since Shanghai on June 1 ended two months of curbs on people’s movement, the effects of which are still being felt by businesses.

Demand in Shanghai for everything from dining out to movies and tourism are still far below pre-lockdown levels, while some indicators show the city is taking longer to recover than Hong Kong and Singapore where rules have been eased.

Retail sales in the city dropped 4.3 per cent in June from a year earlier and rose a meager 0.3% in July, following an average 35 per cent slump in the preceding three months starting March, when the outbreak began.

Nationwide, China reported 1,673 local Covid-19 cases for Saturday, including 1,359 that are asymptomatic.

Tibet found the most cases among all provinces, with 556 new infections detected, according to the National Health Commission.

Sichuan province, home to Chengdu, reported 186. Southern technology hub Shenzhen reported 89 new cases.

Daily new infections in the coming few days are expected to remain at elevated levels, local health authorities said at a Saturday briefing.

Beijing and Shanghai found only one case each.

Tianjin, the northern port hub near Beijing, shut dine-in service in one district after finding 22 new cases for Saturday. The city started mass testing its 13.7 million residents from Sunday.

A’ba state, home to some 815,000 people in Sichuan province, implemented a lockdown to its 13 counties on Sunday. The restrictions will last for at least four days, local authorities said in a statement. BLOOMBERG