Shanghai vows to improve food deliveries as discontent grows over COVID curbs

Shanghai vows to improve food deliveries as discontent grows over COVID curbs
# 07 April 2022 16:30 (UTC +04:00)

The Shanghai government said on Thursday it was trying its best to improve the distribution of food and essential goods to locked-in residents, responding to growing public discontent as COVID curbs stretched into an 11th day, APA reports citing Reuters.

China's financial hub has fallen largely silent after the city imposed harsh curbs to stem the spread of COVID under the country's "zero tolerance" policy, with only healthcare workers, volunteers, delivery personnel or people with special permission allowed on the streets.

Authorities say that has whittled the number of couriers, who must keep the city's 26 million residents supplied, to just 11,000. Still operating but overloaded services include Meituan (3690.HK) and Alibaba's (9988.HK) Freshippo online grocery platform and its service.

Lockdowns for the city's residents east of the Huangpu river began on March 28, while lockdowns for the rest of the city started on April 1. The exercise originally was intended to last five days.

The Shanghai branch of China's Communist Party called on members to "dare show their swords and fight against all kind of behaviour that interferes with and destroys the overall efforts against the pandemic" in an open letter on Wednesday night.

Shanghai has sufficient reserves of staples such as rice and meat, but issues have cropped up in distribution and last-mile deliveries because of epidemic control measures, Shanghai's vice mayor, Chen Tong, said at a news conference on Thursday.

He said the city would try to reopen some wholesale markets and food stores and allow more delivery personnel out of locked-down areas. Officials will also crack down on price gouging, he added.

Many residents are beginning to worry about food and drinking water, as well as obtaining products such as infant formula.

Some have complained on social media about having to wake up at dawn for a chance at booking a grocery delivery, but finding them sold out within seconds. Others have turned to community WeChat groups to try to bulk-buy fruit and vegetables.

Social media users have also widely shared outrage over individual tragedies, including the alleged suicide of woman after being cyberbullied for paying too little to a delivery worker, and a healthcare worker beating to death a corgi dog after its owner allegedly was taken to quarantine.

Shanghai, which has been conducting multiple rounds of testing, reported close to 20,000 new locally transmitted cases for Wednesday, 98% of which it said where asymptomatic.

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