Brawls break out and shelves stripped bare as Chinese city forced into lockdown

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Residents in a city of 21 million people brawled over supplies as they clambered to stock up before the "world's strictest lockdown".

The Chinese government announced controversial measures to plunge Chengdu into lockdown and only allow one resident per household out to get supplies.

The decision was made after just 157 new covid cases were discovered in the capital of southwestern China's Sichuan province on Thursday, 51 of which were asymptomatic.

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China's much-maligned "zero covid" policy means that cities are forced to enter strict lockdowns even if just a handful of cases are discovered, like in Chengdu's case.

After the city's people were asked to stay in after 6pm local time on Thursday, images started to circulate on Chinese social media site Weibo, showing people climbing over each other in supermarkets, cars packed with supplies and huge crowds on shopping streets.

One resident said "everyone was crazily stocking up on goods".

He said memories of an unprecedented Covid lockdown that lasted more than 60 days in Shanghai earlier this year made people worried about filling the pantry.

The 25-year-old said he had been "habitually stocking up" even before Chengdu was put under its most recent controls.

People have been banned from entering or leaving Chengdu and authorities plan to test all residents in the coming days. It is unclear when the lockdown will be lifted.

Only residents able to show evidence of a negative Covid test are allowed out to buy necessities.

State media also reported that the start of schools' autumn term has been postponed.

Some flights have been grounded, the BBC reported, citing state media.

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Health authorities labelled the situation "extremely complex and severe" but the decision has been met by rare dissent from the Chinese people.

Shenzhen in the south and Dalian in the north-east of the country are also in the midst of restrictions.

Anxiety is gripping Chengdu because of the lockdown in Shanghai that hit its zenith in early April.

The city had faced a fragmented lockdown in certain areas before 20,000 new cases at the start of April led officials to close the entire city.

Reports of fighting in supermarkets and children being removed from covid-positive parents caused uproar.

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  • China
  • Coronavirus

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