China is locking down the province of Guangdong amid resurgent outbreaks of the COVID-19 Delta variant in the region. Lockdowns in Shenzhen, which is located in Guangdong, have led to a slowdown in cargo processing speeds with a bigger impact than the blocking of the Suez Canal by the Ever Given cargo vessel.
Authorities in the region are reportedly scrambling to vaccinate the entire population of the southern Chinese province, reports Radio Free Asia.
Shenzhen authorities began mass-testing residents of Luohu, Futian, Pinghu, Guanlan and other districts on Saturday, while workplaces are insisting on PCR tests for all employees.
Video clips posted to social media showed tens of thousands of people lining up in a stadium all night waiting for PCR tests, while others showed road blocks stopping vehicles from Shenzhen and Dongguan from entering Huizhou city.
“Comrades, you can take it easy and stay home,” one social media user commented on one video clip. “They have blocked the highway exit to Huizhou and are turning away vehicles from Dongguan.”
Meanwhile, residents of some compounds in Dongguan were roused in the early hours by officials with megaphones calling them to go downstairs for PCR testing, according to another social media video.
According to local and state media, almost 90 per cent of confirmed infections since May 21 were reported in the capital of Guangzhou, while authorities in the nearby city of Dongguan have launched a mass testing program, placing numerous residential areas under lockdown. Dongguan also shut down transportation links in and out of the city and informed its residents to stay at home after two cases were reported in the city last weekend. Authorities have also set up roadblocks at all major roads across the city.
The Delta variant is the dominant strain in the new outbreaks with 168 confirmed infections since May 21.
Due to the outbreaks and subsequent lockdowns, shipping terminals in Shenzhen are now experiencing delays in processing, with a more significant impact on ocean freight movements than the blocking of the Suez Canal, according to Reuters.
The lockdowns in Shenzhen includes the closure of retail outlets at Shenzhen International Airport and the cancellation of a large number of flights.
Radio Free Asia reports that authorities informed residents who were stopped at checkpoints that there are “mutant virus strains” reported in the Bao’an and Nanshan districts of Shenzhen.
Despite efforts to lock down the city and vaccinate its residents, authorities are concerned that Chinese vaccines are proving ineffective against the Delta strain of the coronavirus, with many people still getting infected despite being vaccinated.