Covid-19: Shanghai to try to ease 7-week virus lockdown in a few days

BEIJING: Shanghai will attempt to reopen in a few days after eliminating Covid-19 transmission in the general population as the outbreak in China’s largest city subsides, an official said today. Friday.
Strict closing order of the city – now in its seventh week, but sometimes lifted and consolidated to the dismay of residents – was part of the ruling Communist Party’s “zero-Covid” policy that precisely caused increased economic losses and even World Health Organization say may not be sustainable.
The goal in Shanghai is to achieve “social eradication,” meaning any new cases will only occur in people who have been isolated, Vice Mayor Wu Qing said at a news conference. . That would allow for “orderly opening, limited (population) flows and differential management,” Wu said.
No exact date other than the middle of the month has been given, nor did Wu say how the reopening will take place except that the city intends to gradually restore industrial production, education and services. medical service.
Shanghai officials have made similar pledges in the past, only limiting re-entry even as cases worsen in the city of 25 million people.
Complaints about food shortages and other hardships, as well as videos posted online showing people in Shanghai and other areas arguing with police, have been deleted by censors.
In Beijing, where the outbreak is much smaller, the number of daily checks is higher, classes are suspended, people are asked to work from home, restaurants are limited to serving takeout. , and many shops, tourist attractions, banks and government offices. closed.
Some communities are under lockdown and people have been warned to avoid traveling between districts in the city.
Shanghai reported 2,096 new Covid-19 cases on Friday, all but 227 of them in people without symptoms. Beijing has reported 50 cases, matching the recent daily total.
At a briefing on Friday, National Health Commission spokesman Mi Feng said that while the number of cases is falling, local transmission has not been completely cut off in some places and the situation remains “worse and complicated.”
In a sign that testing could become the norm in the future, authorities have ordered all cities to set up testing sites no more than 15 minutes away from where people live. set. Shanghai alone currently has more than 5,700 operations, with plans to add 4,200, state media reported.
China’s Foreign Ministry dismissed WHO’s suspicions of “irresponsibility” earlier this week of continuing a “zero-Covid” approach requiring strict lockdowns, mass testing and mandatory travel to China. crowded concentrated quarantine centers of anyone who has tested positive or has a close relationship.
Experts have questioned the policy’s continued use as vaccines are widely available and it has affected growth in the world’s second-largest economy and global supply chains.
However, it is increasingly identified with Chinese Communist Party President and leader Xi Jinping, who is determined to maintain tight social control and consolidate the party’s power ahead of the congress. important party later this year.
Privacy, freedom of expression and personal autonomy are inherently more restricted in the name of fighting the pandemic. China’s borders have been largely closed for more than two years, and this week the government said it would tighten restrictions on Chinese nationals’ travel abroad and step up oversight of the granting of housing. mat.
At a meeting last week, the party’s plenipotentiary Politburo Standing Committee said it was committed to “resolutely resisting any attempt to misrepresent, question or refute China’s anti-Covid policy”.
“Faced with increased uncertainties due to Covid-19, one thing remains certain – China will follow a dynamic zero-Covid policy that has proven to be pragmatic and effective,” Xinhua said in a statement. an editorial on Thursday.
China’s outbreak and subsequent restrictions have resulted in a number of events being canceled or postponed, most recently the Asian Games originally scheduled for September in the city of Hangzhou. , 177 km (110 mi) west of Shanghai.

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