Saturday, April 1, 2023

COVID outbreak ‘extremely serious’ as Shanghai extends lockdown

BEIJING ( Associated Press) – The COVID-19 outbreak in China’s largest metropolis Shanghai remains “extremely serious” amid a lockdown that has confined nearly 26 million people to their homes, a city official said on Tuesday. said.

Gu Honghui, director of Shanghai’s working group on epidemic control, was quoted by state media as saying the outbreak in the city was “still running at a high level.”

“The situation is very serious,” Gu said.

China has sent more than 10,000 health workers from across the country to aid the city, including 2,000 from the military, and mass-testing residents, some of which have been locked down for weeks.

Most of eastern Shanghai, which was to reopen last Friday, remained closed along with the western half of the city.

Shanghai on Monday reported another 13,354 cases – most of them asymptomatic – since the latest wave of infections began last month, taking the city’s total to more than 73,000. No deaths have been reported for the outbreak driven by the Omicron ba.2 variant, which is much more contagious than the previous Delta strain, but also less lethal.

An isolated outbreak continues in the northeastern province of Jilin and the capital Beijing also saw an additional nine cases, of whom only one is asymptomatic. The workers closed down an entire shopping center in the city where one case was reported.

While China’s vaccination rate is around 90%, its domestically produced inactivated virus vaccines are seen as weaker than mRNA vaccines such as those produced by Pfizer-BioNtech and Moderna that are used overseas, as well as As well as in the Chinese regions of Hong Kong and Macao. , Vaccination rates among the elderly are also very low compared to the population at large, with only half of those over 80 being fully vaccinated.

Meanwhile, complaints have emerged in Shanghai about difficulties in obtaining food and daily necessities, and a lack of medical workers, volunteers and beds in isolation wards where tens of thousands are being kept under observation.

Shanghai has turned an exhibition hall and other facilities into massive isolation centers where people with mild or no symptoms are kept in a sea of ​​beds separated by temporary partitions.

Public outrage has been fueled by reports and video clips posted on the Internet that documented the death of a nurse who was denied admission to her own hospital under COVID-19 restrictions, and infant The children were separated from their parents.

The dissemination of footage of several babies being placed in cots prompted the city’s Public Health Clinical Center to issue a statement saying the babies were being well looked after and that they were given a new one when the footage was taken. Was in the process of being moved to the facility.

In a virtual town hall on Monday, the US consulate in Shanghai warned of possible family separation amid the lockdown, but said it had “extremely limited capacity” to intervene in such matters.

There is growing concern about the potential economic impact on China’s financial capital, which is also a major shipping and manufacturing hub. Most public transport has been suspended and non-essential businesses have closed, although airports and train stations remain open and the city’s port and some major industries such as car plants continue to operate.

International events in the city have been canceled and three out of five foreign companies operating in Shanghai say they have cut sales forecasts for this year, according to a survey conducted last week by the American Chamber of Commerce. Of the 120 companies that responded to the survey, a third said they had delayed investments.

Despite those concerns and growing public frustration, China says it stands by its “zero-tolerance” approach mandating lockdowns, mass testing and mandatory isolation of all suspected cases and close contacts.

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
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