Shanghai lockdown sends its economy reeling

Business & Technology

After a record number of COVID cases were reported on Sunday, Shanghai went into its largest citywide lockdown since the start of the pandemic.

A police officer in a protective suit in Shanghai, China, on March 28, 2022. REUTERS/Aly Song.

Shanghai announced its largest citywide lockdown since the pandemic began over two years ago, through its municipal WeChat account on Sunday. The decision came after COVID-19 cases hit a new record: 3,500 on Sunday, a 40% increase from the day before, according to data from the municipal health commission.

  • Long lines are spilling out of grocery stores as Shanghai’s residents prep their fridges and freezers for a four-day lockdown. Public transportation, including ride hailing, will be suspended. Most bars, shops, and restaurants in the city were asked to have takeout only.
  • This is the first time since 1937 that the two sides of Shanghai have been divided,” said one resident to SupChina, a reference to the Japanese occupation. On social media, commenters have wryly dubbed this the “Mandarin duck hotpot” method, after the famous two-sided soup dish.

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The context: Shanghai’s case numbers have climbed alarmingly fast in the month of March, transporting the city back two years on the pandemic timeline of most countries in the world. Over the past couple of weeks, schools have been pushed online. Scores of buildings and apartment blocks have been sealed off, their residents confined at home. Medical services are being squeezed as hospitals prioritize COVID-19 patients.

Key takeaway: In April 2020, China was well ahead of the world in suppressing local COVID-19 transmissions. Heading into April 2022, the world has generally caught up, but China appears to be back at square one. As with any other moment in the pandemic, though, it is very difficult to predict how the situation could change in another month or two.


Follow our coverage of the Shanghai lockdown.