Shanghai Ikea lockdown sparks fly as China enforces ‘zero covid’

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A sudden lockdown at an Ikea store in Shanghai at the weekend sparked a chaotic scene as masked shoppers scrambled for the exits amid an effort to quarantine those in the store after authorities learned several customers had been exposed to the coronavirus.

Videos of the rush circulated widely on social media, in part because they highlighted the widening gap between China, where officials are enforcing a strict “zero covid” policy through mass testing and rapid shutdowns, and many other parts of the world, where business has resumed as usual , although coronavirus cases remain high.

Videos were taken down from Chinese social media shortly after they were posted.

In a statement released on Sunday, the Shanghai Health Commission’s deputy chairman, Zhao Dandan, said a 6-year-old boy tested positive for the coronavirus and was in close contact with several people who went to Ikea in the city’s Xuhui district. Zhao did not disclose when the close contacts were in the store.

according to BBC, the child tested positive after returning to Shanghai from Lhasa, the capital of Tibet. He remains asymptomatic and is under medical observation by the Chinese authorities.

In a viral video, confused shoppers can be seen trapped in the Swedish-founded furniture store, pushing trolleys and with shopping bags in hand. Some were separated from companions by glass doors. In the background, a notice about the closure of a shop is played over a loudspeaker. In one clip, angry shoppers fight security guards at what appears to be a back door or fire exit.

A call to the store on Monday evening went straight to voicemail.

Shanghai health authorities require people with contacts who visited the Ikea store to be quarantined for two days and undergo five days of health checks.

On Monday, the city registered 25 million six positive coronavirus cases, of which five were asymptomatic. More than 400 close contacts of the 6-year-old boy were identified; 80,000 people loosely linked to the child were ordered to take PCR tests, according to a weekend news release from the Shanghai Health Commission.

China is one of the only countries in the world to have adopted one zero covid policy — ordering mass testing and long-term quarantines in isolation centers and at home. In April, Shanghai was ordered to undergo a grueling two-month lockdown, prompting a mental health crisis and leaving thousands of inhabitants without a steady supply of food. The emergence of the BA.5 variant sparked fears of another hard shutdown in the city.

In a speech in June i Wuhanwhere the first case of the coronavirus was detected, Chinese President Xi Jinping said that a “dynamic zero-covid policy” ensures the overall safety and health of the population, “even if it temporarily affects economic growth somewhat.”

Eva Dou in Beijing contributed to this report.

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