Authorities have placed the city of Shenzhen into a week-long lockdown amid rising cases of COVID-19, said to be linked to the current Hong Kong outbreak.
The lockdown, scheduled to last until 20 March, comes after 60 cases of COVID-19 were detected in the city over the weekend, with officials ordering mass testing for all of the Shenzhen’s 17.5 million residents.
Public transport systems will also be shut down while businesses other than those deemed essential have been ordered to close. Residents will not be permitted to leave the city.
Shenzhen, home to major tech companies such as Tencent and Huawei, is located in Guangdong Province to the immediate north of Hong Kong.
The decision to lockdown the city comes after mainland China reported almost 3,400 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday – double the number reported on Saturday. It has been described as the nation’s worst outbreak since the early days of the pandemic.
Aside from Shenzhen, the city of Jilin in China’s northeast and nearby Yanji were also partially locked down with Jilin reporting more than 500 cases on Sunday.
The outbreak, resulting from the Omicron variant, is seen as the biggest test yet of China’s zero-COVID policy. While leaders have so far resisted calls to ease strict international border restrictions, the former head of China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Zeng Guang, said recently the zero-COVID policy “can’t remain unchanged forever” and that “it is the long-term goal of humanity to co-exist with the virus”.
Brokerage Bernstein noted last week that Macau could expect to see falling visitation from China as a result of the rising mainland case numbers.
“China’s COVID outbreak is still largely under control, but the largest feeder market, Guangdong, is reporting rising cases which could lead to further spread in China and greater travel impediments in the near term,” said analyst Vitaly Umansky.
Hong Kong also continues to be gripped by the virus, with 32,430 new cases reported on Sunday.