Central China's Zhengzhou strives to ensure food supplies amid COVID-19
Xia Ruixue, Zhang Youze

Early in the morning, tonnes of vegetables, meat, and fruit arrive at one of the largest wholesale markets in Zhengzhou, capital of central China's Henan Province. It's much busier than usual after the city saw a resurgence of COVID-19 infections this week.

The Chinese mainland on Saturday reported 319 confirmed local COVID-19 cases, of which 215 were in Shanghai, 44 in Beijing and 25 in Henan, the National Health Commission said on Sunday.

Henan became the third provincial-level region hit hard by COVID-19 recently. The central Chinese province has reported 107 locally transmitted COVID-19 cases since May 1.

Li Yulei, vice manager of Henan Wanbang International Logistic of Agricultural Products Corporation, said that its market could provide a total of 438,000 tonnes of food per day. The stock can support local residents' needs for 10-20 days. And more is being purchased to cope with the pandemic.

Zhengzhou is one of the country's largest grain producers. It also has the largest number of agricultural processing companies.

During the pandemic, these food manufacturers maximized production to produce dumplings, noodles, steamed bread and other goods for local residents. At the same time, local authorities have also been trying to ensure delivery services are more resilient and efficient.

"Our company got an increasing number of orders when the outbreak hit the city, as people stockpiled a few times the normally needed amount of food," said Yan Jujian, vice manager of marketing at Sanquan Food Co., Ltd., one of China's largest producers of fast-frozen food.

Yan said the company has been operating 24/7 to satisfy demand.

"Thanks to the local commerce department improving logistics services, now it takes only six to eight hours for our products to reach retailers. Usually it takes three to five days. So that's way much quicker than before."

Most Zhengzhou residents have remained calm. They believe supplies are sufficient and fresh. And prices are fair.

Residents have been urged to work from home but every day, one person from each family in Zhengzhou can go out once to buy daily necessities and food.

The week-long lockdown, which began on Wednesday, was imposed to help deal with the more infectious Omicron variant.The aim is to bring the outbreak under control as soon as possible.

Maintaining stable food supplies is very critical during the pandemic. Both residents and officials in Zhengzhou seem more confident and better prepared this time around.

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