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Shanghai is under COVID-19 restrictions after omicron surge

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Workers are seen wearing protective clothes next to some lockdown areas after the detection of new cases of covid-19 in Shanghai on March 14, 2022

Workers are seen wearing protective clothes next to some lockdown areas after new cases of COVID-19 in Shanghai on March 14. Hector Retamal/AFP via Getty Images

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China is experiencing its worst COVID-19 wave since the start of the pandemic, prompting some of China’s largest factories to suspend production.

The country’s National Health Commission reported over 2,300 new cases on Sunday and 3,300 on Saturday, which is a drop in the bucket when compared to the infection rates in the United States. But when you’ve got an entire province like Jilin and Chinese cities like Shenzhen — the so-called Silicon Valley for hardware — in a lockdown for the next week, that’s going to be felt around the global supply chain.

Officials in Shanghai, the financial capital, are also restricting people’s movement. Shanghai doesn’t call this a full lockdown; the whole city is not locked down, but officials are sealing off individual buildings.

The effect on residents is just as jarring. For days, friends have sent me the news that their high-rises have been sealed overnight. Pet owners have formed chat groups and backup plans for how to feed their beloved animals if they can’t get home for weeks.

China’s zero-COVID policy means even if you’re a contact of a contact and did not test positive, you still might have to quarantine at a government hotel.

This strategy is how China kept its factories churning during the pandemic. But the omicron variant is highly contagious.

Here in Shanghai, you can’t leave the city unless you prove you’re COVID-free and have a good reason for travel.

Students are back to online learning, and parents, if they’re lucky, are working from home.

As for people still going to the office like me, the morning commute is quiet. Many restaurants are open for take-out only. And I carry my work stuff wherever I go, just in case.

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