Panic buying in Beijing as district begins mass COVID testing

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  • Beijing launches first of three rounds of mass testing in populated neighborhood
  • Mass testing fuels concerns over food and supply shortages
  • China’s stock market down on fears Beijing will join Shanghai in lockdown

BEIJING, April 25 (Reuters) – Beijing residents bought food and other supplies as the city’s largest district began mass COVID-19 testing of all residents on Monday, raising fears of a lockdown Shanghai style after dozens of cases in the capital lately. days.

Authorities in Chaoyang, home to 3.45 million people, ordered residents and those who work there to get tested three times this week on Sunday evening, as Beijing warned the virus had spread “stealthily”. in the city for about a week before being detected.

“I’m preparing for the worst,” said Zhang, a graduate student from nearby Haidian District, who ordered dozens of snacks and 10 pounds of apples online.

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Shoppers in the city swarmed stores and online platforms to stock up on leafy vegetables, fresh meat, instant noodles and toilet paper rolls.

In Shanghai, where most of its 25 million people have been locked down for weeks, the main food supply bottleneck has been a lack of enough couriers to make door-to-door deliveries, fueling the anger of inhabitants. Read more

In Beijing, supermarket chains such as Carrefour (CARR.PA) and Wumart said they more than doubled their inventories, while grocery-focused e-commerce platform Meituan (3690.HK) increased stocks. inventory and the number of employees for sorting and delivery, according to the state-backed Beijing Daily.

Supermarket chains should ensure that goods are replenished on time, a Beijing official told a late-day news conference, adding that the city’s reserves of refined grains and oil could meet demand. consumption needs of the inhabitants for 30 days.

Shop hours would also be extended, the official said.

Since Friday, Beijing has reported 70 locally transmitted cases in eight of its 16 districts, with Chaoyang accounting for 46 of the total, a local health official said Monday.

Even in districts like Haidian which have yet to report any cases in the current outbreak, there is a growing sense of unease over the food supply.

As the Chinese capital’s workload is low compared to that of the world and the hundreds of thousands in Shanghai, the Chaoyang district has told residents to reduce public activities, although most schools, shops and offices remained open.

Chinese stocks fell on Monday, with the blue-chip CSI300 index (.CSI300) closing down 4.9% to a two-year low, weighed on fears that Beijing is set to join Shanghai in the shutdowns. L2N2WN0GK learn more

The Shanghai Composite Index (.SSEC) fell 5.1%.

Beijing’s Chaoyang district is home to many wealthy residents, most foreign embassies as well as entertainment venues and corporate headquarters. It has little manufacturing.

“The current epidemic in Beijing is stealthily spreading from yet unknown sources and growing rapidly,” a city official said Sunday.

More than a dozen buildings in Chaoyang have been locked down. For the rest of the district, people were to be tested on Monday and again on Wednesday and Friday.

On Monday morning, people lined up at makeshift testing sites manned by medical workers in protective gear. As part of mass testing campaigns in China, several samples are tested together.

“I came as the notice suggested, at 6 a.m. for a test just to make sure I can get to work on time,” said a man in his 30s queuing for a test in his residential compound.

In the early afternoon, restrictions on movement in part of Chaoyang were tightened, with residents ordered not to leave the area at all and not to leave their premises for non-essential reasons, said state television reported.

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Reporting by Ryan Woo, Roxanne Liu, Muyu Xu, Zhang Min and Albee Zhang; Editing by Tony Munroe, Himani Sarkar, Emelia Sithole-Matarise and Alex Richardson

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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