According to media reports, Shanghai will conduct Covid-19 testing on more than half of its 25 million residents this weekend, fueling fears of a return to more stringent restrictions just days after the financial hub emerged from a two-month-long lockdown.
The announcements of mass testing sparked fears of a return to strict, prolonged lockdown among Shanghai residents, many of whom had been confined to their homes for two months or more since March, according to CNN.
Panic buying has resulted from these fears. According to photos and videos circulated on social media, Shanghai residents rushed to supermarkets on Thursday to stock up on food and other daily necessities, forming long lines at checkouts and leaving shelves empty.
According to Zhao Dandan, deputy head of the Shanghai Municipal Health Commission, at least seven of the city’s 16 districts, with a combined population of 15 million people, will conduct mass testing over the weekend.
Shanghai’s most populated areas and busiest business districts, such as Pudong and Xuhui, are among the districts.
Districts that have reported positive cases since Shanghai lifted its citywide lockdown on June 1 will be placed under “closed management” while test samples are collected, Zhao said. She did not say how long the sampling will last.
According to CNN, “closed management” in China’s zero-Covid policy lexicon usually refers to restrictions that prevent people from leaving their residential communities or workplaces.
On Saturday, the Changning district, which includes the Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport and 700,000 residents, announced on its official social media account that it will conduct mass Covid testing.
“During the sampling period, closed management will be enforced on residential communities, where (residents) can only enter but not leave,” the statement said.
Earlier on Thursday, the Songjiang district announced on social media that all 1.9 million residents must undergo Covid testing over the weekend, according to CNN.