South China’s economic metropolis Shenzhen has relaxed its strict coronavirus lockdown. In the city of 17 million people, which has been completely closed since Sunday, factories and other businesses in four districts and a special economic zone can reopen, authorities announced Thursday night. The city explained that the infection had been successfully contained there.
The lockdown in Shenzhen, a major industrial and technological hotspot, had huge economic consequences. On Monday, for example, Apple’s main supplier, Foxconn, temporarily ceased operations in Shenzhen. As a result, stock prices in Hong Kong collapsed.
The relaxation should now “reconcile epidemic prevention and control” with “economic and social development”, as the city’s Corona crisis team announced. The corona situation in Shenzhen remains “serious” but “controllable”, the authorities added.
At the end of 2019, China was the first country in which the novel coronavirus Sars-CoV-2 was detected, and after two good years of the pandemic, it is one of the last countries in the world to adhere to a zero-covid strategy. This is implemented with strict measures such as border closures, strict quarantine rules, mass testing and local lockdowns. To contain the sources of infection, the authorities isolate entire cities with a population of more than one million.
The highly contagious omicron variant is now putting the government’s zero-Covid strategy to the test. On Friday, Chinese health authorities reported 4,365 new infections across the country. In view of the rising number, doubts have recently increased as to whether the strict measures, including their economic and social consequences, are still appropriate.
On Thursday, Chinese President Xi Jinping reiterated his commitment to the zero-Covid strategy despite the omicron wave. But he also called for “minimizing” the impact of the pandemic on the country’s economy.