Setback for Shanghai’s COVID battle; Beijing focuses on mass testing

  • Shanghai reports 58 new cases outside quarantine zones
  • Beijing tests millions
  • Epidemic poses biggest test yet for Xi’s ‘zero-COVID’ strategy

SHANGHAI/BEIJING, May 2 (Reuters) – China’s commercial capital Shanghai was hit hard on Monday as authorities reported 58 new cases of COVID-19 outside lockdown areas, while Beijing continued to test millions of people during the May 1 holiday. were partying.

Strict coronavirus measures in Shanghai have sparked rare public anger, with millions of the city’s 25 million residents stuck indoors for more than a month, some sealed inside gated residential compounds and many struggling to provide daily necessities.

Shanghai residents breathed a sigh of relief over the weekend when they learned that no cases had been confirmed outside areas under lockdown for two days, but disappointment came on Monday with the report of 58 new infections.

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Authorities did not comment on the new cases at a news conference, but members of the public weighed in online.

“They announced that they had eliminated cases at the community level too early, one person commented on social media platform Weibo.

Yet many people also took heart from the data which showed encouraging trends, with 32 new deaths on Sunday, down from 38 a day earlier, and a total of 6,804 new local cases, down from 7,189 the day before.

“There is hope for May,” said another Weibo user.

Despite the drop in cases, more fences were erected in some residential blocks in Shanghai on Monday, although authorities said employees of companies the government has put on a production priority list could apply for a pass if the building they lived in had no cases for seven years. days.

The coronavirus first emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019 and for two years authorities managed to keep outbreaks largely under control with lockdowns and travel bans.

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

China’s COVID policy is increasingly out of step with the rest of the world, where many governments have eased restrictions, or removed them altogether, in a bid to “live with COVID” even as infections spread.

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

China has shown no signs of deviating from its policy despite a growing impact on the world’s second-largest economy and waves of disruptions in global supply chains.

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

Beijing, with dozens of daily infections in an outbreak in its second week, has not locked down, relying instead, at least for now, on mass testing to locate and isolate infections. .

Beijing restaurants are closed for dining and some apartment buildings are closed. The streets are quiet and residents who venture out must show negative coronavirus tests to enter most public places.

Authorities are tracing close contacts of confirmed cases, warning them to stay home and contact authorities, and calling on everyone to comply with instructions.

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

All of China’s 32 new deaths have been in Shanghai, bringing the country’s total death toll since the virus emerged to 5,092.

India, the only country with a population comparable to China’s 1.4 billion, has officially recorded more than half a million deaths, although some health experts believe its toll is even higher. raised.

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Reporting by Brenda Goh, Sophie Yu and Tony Munroe; Written by Anne Marie Roantree; Editing by Robert Birsel

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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