The authorities in Chengdu, one of China’s biggest cities, are preparing to lock down its residents, turning once again to the country’s tried-and-tested Covid strategy of restricting people’s movements to stop outbreaks.
Starting at 6 p.m. on Thursday, residents in the city of more than 21 million will not be allowed to leave their homes without special permission, in the most drastic move to stop an outbreak since Shanghai went into a damaging two-month lockdown in April. Officials gave no indication of how long the lockdown might last but said there would be mass testing starting on Thursday and running through the weekend. Chengdu reported 157 cases on Wednesday and 780 cases since Aug. 25.
China is the last major country in the world to pursue a policy of eradicating the virus, and it uses citywide lockdowns and mass testing to root out pockets of outbreaks. But the approach is adding to the pressures facing the local authorities in Sichuan, the southern province whose capital is Chengdu. A record-setting drought and a punishing heat wave have devastated the region’s power supply, and for more than a week emergency responders were battling quick-moving wildfires around the city of Chongqing.