Sat. May 21st, 2022

Beijing has denied it is heading for COVID-19 lockdown as panic buying grips the Chinese capital, while in Shanghai, officials have combed the city for lingering cases in the hope of clearing the way to escape from weeks of painful restrictions.

Daily cases in Beijing have remained in the dozens, a tiny fraction of the outbreak in Shanghai and what other cities around the world now shrug off as they look to “live with the virus”.

But with gradually tightening curbs in China’s capital – most recently suspending taxi services in some virus-hit districts – rumors swirled on Thursday (local time) that it was headed for lockdown, something Beijing has avoided during the entire pandemic.

There were chaotic scenes inside some supermarkets late on Thursday as residents rushed to stock up on supplies while anxiously listening to Beijing’s daily COVID news conference on their phones.

People line up outside of supermarkets along streets.
Long queues went all the way down the streets of Beijing as shoppers waited to enter.(Reuters: Xiaoyu Yin)

Residents nervous as restrictions tighten

Grace Zhao stood in a 50-meter queue outside one supermarket in Chaoyang, Beijing’s most populous district and the epicenter of its current outbreak.

Long line of people queuing outside a supermarket.
Shoppers line up to enter a supermarket amid an Omicron outbreak in the Chaoyang district of Beijing.(Reuters: Martin Pollard)

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