China’s economy takes Omicron hit as big cities reel under lockdowns

Beijing: Battling the worst coronavirus outbreak since it emerged in Wuhan two years ago, China on Monday acknowledged that its economy was hit by the Omicron variant leading to lockdowns of several cities as data showed the economy shrank dramatically in April, with experts warning that the decline is yet to bottom out.
China, which prides itself on stamping out COVID-19 after it broke out at Wuhan in December 2019 before it became a pandemic causing havoc around the world with millions of deaths, struggled to deal with the Omicron Tsunami in the last few months resulting in lockdowns of several cities including its business hub Shanghai besides capital Beijing, which is currently under semi-lockdown.
Officials in Shanghai on Monday announced that they will gradually open up Shanghai, China’s largest city of over 25 million people, from June 1, ending a two-month lockdown which brought the business-industrial hub to a grinding halt.
Shanghai has cut off the community transmission of COVID-19 in 15 out of its 16 districts, the local health commission said on Monday.
The city reported 69 confirmed locally transmitted COVID-19 cases and 869 local asymptomatic cases on Sunday.
From June 1 to mid-late June, Shanghai will fully restore the normal order of production and life across the city with standard epidemic prevention and control measures, while strictly preventing any resurgence of the epidemic, Zong Ming, Vice Mayor, told the media.
The city which witnessed vocal public protests over the handling of the crisis by the government reported 582 deaths since March with thousands of people treated in make-shift hospitals.
Meanwhile, Beijing, which is under semi-lockdown, began 3-day third round testing of its 21 million people on Monday as the city remained in semi-lockdown for the third week to break the chain of the virus.
The lockdowns were meanwhile impacting the Chinese economy which is reeling under the Ukraine war and trade tensions with the US and the EU.
China’s economy is expected to recover gradually as the country achieves major anti-epidemic outcomes and pro-growth policies take effect, Fu Linghui, spokesperson for the National Bureau of Statistics said on Monday as the 2nd largest economy took a hit from the three-month-long run of the Omicron variant of the COVID shutting several cities.
The economy is expected to improve in May with the accelerating resumption of work and production in Shanghai and Jilin as well as the implementation of pro-growth measures, Fu was quoted as saying by the official media. —Agencies

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