May 17, 2022

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Setback in Shanghai's COVID battle as Beijing ramps up mass testing

Setback in Shanghai’s COVID battle as Beijing ramps up 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 areas under strict lockdown, while Beijing continued to test millions of people over the May Day holiday. Few were celebrating.

Strict coronavirus restrictions in Shanghai have sparked rare public outrage, 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 get daily necessities.

While Shanghai officials said the situation is improving, images on social media have raised public tension at a time when hospitals and mortuaries are overwhelmed in the city.

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On Monday, authorities said they were investigating five officials after videos showed a local nursing home transporting an elderly man in a body bag to a mortuary. The person was later found alive.

Shanghai residents breathed a sigh of relief over the weekend after no cases were confirmed outside the restricted areas for two days, but the disappointment came on Monday with 58 new infections reported among people who were allowed to move more freely across the country. city.

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

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

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However, many people have drawn enthusiasm from data that showed encouraging trends, with 32 new deaths on Sunday, down from 38 the day before, and 6,804 new local cases, down from 7,189.

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.

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 had some of the toughest restrictions, finally opened its borders on Monday, welcoming thousands of visitors for the first time since the pandemic began. Read more

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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.

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

The capital, which has a population of 22 million, has tightened coronavirus restrictions during the five-day Labor Day holiday that runs through Wednesday, one of the busiest tourist seasons. Read more

Twelve districts in Beijing, including the largest Chaoyang district that houses nightlife and embassies, will conduct three more rounds of COVID-19 tests between May 3 and 5, a local official said Monday. Chaoyang District is responsible for the largest share of infections in the outbreak in Beijing.

The capital’s restaurants closed their doors to eat, while some residential complexes were closed. The streets are quiet and residents who venture outside have to test negative for the coronavirus to enter most public places.

The authorities are tracing contacts of confirmed cases, warning them to stay at home and contact the authorities.

On Monday, the National Health Commission announced that 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 nearly 1.4 billion, has officially recorded more than half a million deaths, although some health experts believe the death toll is even higher.

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

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.