BEIJING ( Associated Press) – The COVID-19 outbreak that has shut down much of Shanghai appears to be easing, with the number of new cases falling below 10,000 a day over the weekend.
Authorities have begun limited easing of a citywide lockdown that has disrupted the lives of millions of residents and dealt at least a temporary blow to China’s economy. Many have been confined to their apartments for three weeks or more. They reported difficulty ordering food deliveries in the early days of the lockdown and high prices for what they could get.
watch: Shanghai outbreak reported 3 COVID deaths
China’s largest city recorded nearly 7,000 cases a day on Saturday and Sunday, down from a peak of 27,605 on April 13 nearly three weeks ago. Shanghai reported 32 deaths, bringing the death toll to 454. Most of the victims were elderly and many were unvaccinated.
Even as many other countries ease pandemic restrictions, the Chinese government rests on a “zero-COVID” approach that restricts travel, mass testing across cities and every infected person. Sets up temporary facilities to try to isolate. Lockdowns begin in buildings and neighborhoods but build up across cities if the virus is spreading widely.
Many outside experts say the time has come for China to change course. The lockdown helped buy critical time at the start of the pandemic, but zero-COVID no longer makes sense from a public health perspective and imposes socioeconomic costs, said Richard, vice president of global health at RTI International in Washington DC. Reithinger said.
He said, “Continuing to implement a zero-COVID-19 policy now, including the lockdown approach and restricting travel, is almost like pretending that we have learned nothing in the last two years, now effective There are treatment options and various vaccines available,” he said.
But Chinese officials worry that a larger outbreak could overwhelm the health care system and cause more deaths, especially among unvaccinated elderly people.
Authorities in Beijing have closed schools, mass-tested more than 20 million people and imposed targeted lockdowns of buildings and neighborhoods in a bid to reach Shanghai’s proportions and prevent the need for a citywide lockdown. Have a small outbreak.
The Chinese capital reported 50 new cases, bringing the total to 400 in the 11-day-old outbreak. Restaurants and gyms have been ordered to close for the national holiday of May Day lasting until Wednesday. Major tourist destinations in the city, including the Forbidden City and Beijing Zoo, will close their indoor exhibition halls from Tuesday.
Shanghai has recorded nearly 400,000 cases in China’s biggest outbreak since the start of the pandemic.
Reithinger said the zero-COVID policy is a comprehensive strategy, not driven by epidemiological data. Instead of a city-wide lockdown, China should focus on areas where there are clusters of cases, implement social distancing and other prevention measures and ramp up its vaccination efforts, especially among the elderly, he said. said.