Capital of China's Jilin province apologises for food shortages due to COVID curbs

Mass testing for COVID-19 in Changchun
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BEIJING (Reuters) -The Chinese city of Changchun, capital of the COVID-hit northeastern province of Jilin, on Tuesday apologised to its 8.5 million residents for food shortages related to shutdowns and disruption caused by COVID containment measures.

Due to COVID-19, two major wholesale food markets in Changchun have shuttered, leading to a shortfall in food supply, said the city's deputy Communist Party secretary, Liu Renyuan, a problem aggravated by a shortage of workers that has delayed deliveries to homes.

"We are particularly anxious and angry about this, and we express our deep apologies to the public for the impact and inconvenience caused," Liu said at a local news conference.

To ease the dearth of sorting and delivery personnel, the provincial government of Jilin has organised about 1,000 tonnes of "vegetable bags" to be delivered to Changchun each day, he said.

Authorities will also crack down on price hikes on vegetables, Liu added.

Changchun and the rest of Jilin have been battling with COVID cases increasing by thousands almost every day since mid-March.

"Food is not available, and I've had to eat instant noodles," said a Changchun courier surnamed Mao, who has not left his residential compound for days.

"It's useless to think about anything now. I just have to wait until the lockdown is lifted later," Mao told Reuters.

In what they have called a "last-ditch battle" against the virus, authorities have put the entire province under lockdown since March 14 and conducted mass testing to isolate infections.

Changchun itself has completed more than 10 rounds of citywide testing of its residents.

(Reporting by Ryan Woo; Additional reporting by Beijing newsroom; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)