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In Shanghai, an “army” of delivery men supplies the confined


A delivery man (r) near employees in protective suits in front of a confined district of Shanghai after the appearance of new cases of Covid-19, on March 17, 2022 in China (AFP/Hector RETAMAL)

With their electric scooters, they are the lifeline for Shanghainese confined to their homes due to Covid: delivery men are rushing through the Chinese metropolis to deliver fruit, meat, vegetables or disinfectant.

China is currently facing an epidemic outbreak, with several thousand new cases per day.

The city of Shanghai, affected, confined certain neighborhoods and organized a large screening.

Result: shopping and meal delivery applications are facing a huge influx of orders in the metropolis of 25 million inhabitants.

And they struggle to keep up.

In a sorting center in Dingdong Maicai, one of the leaders in the sector, staff are working overtime to meet demand, which has doubled in a week.

A delivery man on a scooter leaves to deliver an order to residents of a confined area of ​​Shanghai after the appearance of new cases of Covid-19, March 17, 2022 in China.

A delivery man on a scooter leaves to deliver an order to residents of a confined district of Shanghai after the appearance of new cases of Covid-19, on March 17, 2022 in China (AFP / Hector RETAMAL)

The company urgently recruited 300 people.

Two-wheeled delivery people were elevated to national heroes two years ago, at the start of 2020, when they brought supplies to millions of people during a long period of confinement.

– Inventory –

“We are an army of fighters! No matter the difficulties, we face them as quickly as possible”, laughs Zhang Yangyang, director of the Dingdong Maicai sorting center, where the activity does not weaken.

A delivery man on a scooter brings an order to the entrance of a confined area of ​​Shanghai after the appearance of new cases of Covid-19, on March 17, 2022 in China.

A delivery man on a scooter brings an order to the entrance of a confined district of Shanghai after the appearance of new cases of Covid-19, on March 17, 2022 in China (AFP/Hector RETAMAL)

Since the spring of 2020, life has been almost normal in the country thanks to targeted confinements, border screening, tracing of cases via mobile applications and quarantines on arrival in the territory.

For the past ten days, China has announced daily reports of more than a thousand cases, a figure much lower than in many places in the world. But it is still the biggest outbreak in two years. And the country recorded its first two Covid deaths in more than a year on Saturday.

A delivery man brings an order to the entrance of a confined area of ​​Shanghai after the appearance of new cases of Covid-19, March 17, 2022 in China.

A delivery man brings an order to the entrance of a confined district of Shanghai after the appearance of new cases of Covid-19, on March 17, 2022 in China (AFP / Hector RETAMAL)

Faced with this wave of Omicron, the Chinese authorities have confined neighborhoods, even entire cities. Tens of millions of Chinese are confined.

Shanghai is avoiding general confinement for the time being. But when in doubt, many residents preferred to anticipate and stock up on food.

More work for Zhang Yangyang and his colleagues: “I no longer have a weekend to myself,” he says.

– “Gratitude” –

The food and grocery delivery industry in China is probably the most developed in the world.

A delivery man brings an order to the entrance of a confined area of ​​Shanghai after the appearance of new cases of Covid-19, March 17, 2022 in China.

A delivery man brings an order to the entrance of a confined district of Shanghai after the appearance of new cases of Covid-19, on March 17, 2022 in China (AFP / Hector RETAMAL)

With just a few clicks on their smartphone, users can have almost anything delivered from restaurants, supermarkets, cafes, bakeries or pharmacies within a radius of several kilometres.

Couriers in Shanghai say they each make up to 100 deliveries a day.

The bags are usually left at the entrance to confined residential areas, to avoid contact. Where confinement is less strict, delivery people can go upstairs.

A delivery man (g) brings an order to the entrance of a confined area of ​​Shanghai after the appearance of new cases of Covid-19, on March 17, 2022 in China.

A delivery man (g) brings an order to the entrance of a confined district of Shanghai after the appearance of new cases of Covid-19, on March 17, 2022 in China (AFP/Hector RETAMAL)

“I would be lying if I said that I was not afraid at the start,” said Li Yawu, an employee of Dingdong Maicai who says he works 15 hours a day to deliver groceries, especially in at-risk neighborhoods.

“But when you hand the supplies to people and you see all the gratitude in their eyes, all the fear disappears.”

© 2022 AFP

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