Shanghai will launch phased lockdown to curb Covid-19 outbreak fueled by Omicron China The city government said it had the highest number of cases since the early days of the epidemic.
China’s largest city will shut down the eastern half from Monday through Friday, officials said, following a similar shutdown for the western side starting on April 1.
The city of 25 million people in recent days has become the main hot spot in the nationwide outbreak Increase the frequency in early March.
A record 3,450 symptomatic cases were reported in Shanghai on Sunday, accounting for nearly 70% of the nationwide total, along with 50 asymptomatic cases, the city government said Monday.
China’s National Health Commission on Monday reported 5,134 new asymptomatic cases the previous day, and 1,219 confirmed local infections.
Although the case numbers are still insignificant in the global context, they are the highest in China since the early weeks of the epidemic, which first appeared in the city of Wuhan in late 2019.
Millions of residents in affected areas across the country have been subject to citywide lockdowns.
However, Shanghai has so far avoided a complete shutdown, as officials have said it is essential to keep East China’s port and financial center running, in the interest of both national and global economies.
The city government said earlier in a public notice that the two-part lockdown was being implemented to “reduce the spread of the epidemic, ensure the safety and health of people” and eradicate cases of infection “as soon as possible”.
The sprawling eastern half of the city, known as Pudong, which houses the main international airport and financial district, will be closed for testing starting Monday morning and ending on April 1.
The government added that on April 1, the western half of the city, known as Puxi and featuring the historic Bond Riverfront, will be closed until April 5.
Residents have been asked to stay home during the lockdowns, and all business and government employees not involved in the supply of essential services have been advised to work from home.
Those involved in providing vital services such as gas, electricity, transportation, sanitation and food supply will be exempted from the stay-at-home order.
The Shanghai Public Security Bureau said it would close cross-river bridges and tunnels, and toll-collecting booths were concentrated on highways in the city’s eastern districts until April 1. Similar restrictions will be imposed on areas west of the Huangpu River from April 1-5.
On Saturday, a member of the city’s epidemic control brigade pledged that Shanghai would not shut down.
Wu Fan, a medical expert with the task force, said during a daily news briefing on the virus held by the city government.
“This would affect the entire national economy and the global economy.”
The Chinese government has kept the virus under control at the national level with strict zero-tolerance measures including mass closures of entire cities and provinces for even small numbers of cases.
But the authorities nervously watched that a Hong Kong’s killer omicron spikeIt sparked panic buying and caused huge losses among the unvaccinated elderly people in the southern China city.
The subsequent spread of the variant in mainland China has posed a dilemma for authorities grappling with the strength of the response, with the zero-tolerance approach increasingly questioned amid concerns about the economic impact and “epidemic public fatigue”, particularly given Omicron’s less severe symptoms.
Shanghai has sought to mitigate the disruption with a targeted approach to the current outbreak that has been marked by a 48-hour shutdown of individual neighborhoods along with widespread testing, but other than that keeping the city running.
But a softer strategy has so far failed to dampen the city’s caseload, and local lockdowns have sparked online grumbling and grocery rushes in some areas.
AFP and Reuters contributed to this report
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