setback for the Shanghai COVID battle; Beijing focuses on mass testing

  • Shanghai reported 58 new cases outside quarantine areas
  • Beijing tests millions
  • The outbreak constitutes the biggest test yet of Xi’s “zero COVID” strategy.

SHANGHAI/BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s commercial capital Shanghai took a beating on Monday as authorities reported 58 new cases of COVID-19 outside lockdown areas, while Beijing pressed to test millions of people over the Labor Day holiday. They were celebrating.

Strict coronavirus measures in Shanghai have sparked a rare public outcry, with millions of the city’s 25 million residents stuck in their homes for more than a month, some trapped inside fenced apartment complexes, and many struggling to secure daily necessities.

Shanghai residents breathed a sigh of relief over the weekend after reports that no cases had been confirmed outside of closed areas for two days, but the disappointment came on Monday with 58 new infections reported.

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Authorities did not comment on the new cases at a media briefing, but members of the public took notice online.

“They announced that they cracked down on community-wide issues very early on,” one person commented on social media platform Weibo.

However, many people have drawn enthusiasm from the data which showed encouraging trends, with 32 new deaths recorded on Sunday, compared to 38 new deaths on Sunday, and a total of 6,804 new local cases, down from 7,189 new deaths per day. Previous.

Another user on Weibo said: “There is hope in May.”

Despite the drop in cases, more fences were erected in some Shanghai apartment blocks on Monday, although authorities said employees of companies the government has put on a production priority list can apply for a permit if the building they live in does not have one. Cases for seven cases. days.

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The coronavirus first emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019, and for two years the authorities have largely controlled the outbreak through lockdowns and travel bans.

But the rapidly spreading Omicron variant has tested China’s “zero COVID” policy this year, an important policy for President Xi Jinping who is expected to secure an unprecedented third term of leadership in the fall.

China’s policy on the coronavirus has become increasingly incompatible with the rest of the world, as many governments have relaxed, or eliminated, restrictions in an effort to “live with COVID” despite the spread of the infection.

New Zealand, which has some of the toughest restrictions in the world, finally opened its borders on Monday, taking in thousands of travelers from around the world for the first time since the pandemic began. Read more

China has given no hint of deviation from its policy despite mounting losses in the world’s second largest economy, and waves of disruption through global supply chains.

In the capital, home to 22 million people, authorities have tightened Covid restrictions for the five-day May Day holiday that runs through Wednesday, one of the busiest tourist seasons. Read more

Beijing, which is experiencing dozens of daily infections in the outbreak in its second week, has not shut down and is instead relying, at least for now, on mass testing to locate and isolate infections.

Beijing restaurants have been closed to eat in and some apartment complexes have been closed. The streets are quiet and residents who venture outside have to test negative for the coronavirus to enter most public places.

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The authorities are tracing contacts of confirmed cases, warning them to stay at home and contacting the authorities, and calling on everyone to adhere to the instructions.

On Monday, the National Health Commission said China reported 7,822 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, down from 8,329 new cases the day before. Read more

And all 32 new deaths in China were recorded in Shanghai, bringing the total number of deaths in the country since the emergence of the virus to 5,092.

India, the only country with a population of 1.4 billion, has officially recorded more than half a million deaths, although some health experts believe the death toll is higher.

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Additional reporting by Brenda Goh, Sophie Yu, and Tony Munro; Written by Anne Marie Rowntree; Editing by Robert Persell

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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