Saturday, November 26, 2022

China announces 2 phases of citywide lockdown in Shanghai as COVID-19 cases spike. Nation World News

China’s financial hub Shanghai said on Sunday it would lock down the city in two phases to conduct COVID-19 tests over a period of nine days, as it recorded a new daily record for asymptomatic infections.

Officials said they would split Shanghai into two for the exercise, using the Huangpu River that runs through the city as a guide. Districts east of the river and some west of it will be closed and tested between March 28 and April 1. The remaining areas will be cordoned off and testing will be done between April 1 and 5.

The city government said on its official WeChat account that public transport, including ride-hailing services, would be suspended in these areas, while unlicensed vehicles would not be allowed on the roads.

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It also said that all firms and factories, other than those involved in offering public services or supplying food, will stop manufacturing or working remotely during the lockdown.

Health Coronavirus China
People line up near a COVID-19 testing site outside a hospital in Shanghai on Sunday. (Allie Song/Reuters)

“The public is called upon to cooperate, understand and cooperate with the city’s epidemic prevention and control work, and to participate in systematic nucleic acid testing,” the government said in a statement.

Highest number of cases since the initial outbreak

Shanghai has been battling a new COVID-19 surge for almost a month and on Saturday it reported its highest daily cases, as the initial outbreak in China eased. The city reported 2,631 new asymptomatic cases, which accounted for nearly 60 percent of China’s total new asymptomatic cases that day, along with 47 new cases with symptoms.

While the number of cases in Shanghai has remained modest by global standards, the city of 26 million people has become a testing ground for China’s “zero-Covid” strategy as it tries to bring the highly infectious Omicron variant under control.

Health Coronavirus China
A man is tested for COVID-19 at a temporary testing site behind the barriers of an area in Shanghai under lockdown on Saturday. (Allie Song/Reuters)

Shanghai officials have previously resisted a city-wide lockdown to avoid destabilizing its economy and opted for a more bespoke “slicing and gridding” approach, which involves screening neighborhoods one by one.

The city houses factories belonging to Tesla, Volkswagen and the country’s largest chip maker SMIC, as well as the mainland China headquarters of several international companies.

COVID Strategy Meeting Resistance

The Shanghai Municipal Health Commission said on Sunday that more than 14 million Shanghai residents have taken antigen tests.

But some residents have raved about endless cycles of testing and a piecemeal approach to ending transmission chains, with some saying the cost of zero-COVID had been too much.

Disappointment has also been felt elsewhere in China.

Health Coronavirus China
A man looks at his phone as he leans on a barrier in an area in Shanghai under lockdown on Sunday. (Allie Song/Reuters)

Earlier this month, in footage shared on social media, crowds of people hit the windows of a clothing market in the northeastern city of Shenyang as they screamed in desperation over another round of COVID-19 tests .

China reported a total of 4,448 new asymptomatic infections on March 26, up from 4,430 a day earlier, including 1,007 new cases in the northeastern province of Jilin, which is currently under lockdown.

The country reported 1,254 new confirmed cases with symptoms, up from 1,335 a day earlier. Of the new cases, 1,217 were locally transmitted, as against 1,280 a day earlier.

No deaths were reported since the death toll stood at 4,638 on March 26. As of 26 March, mainland China had 143,240 confirmed cases of COVID-19.

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