Six Shanghai districts reach zero-Covid status

BEIJING (REUTERS, BLOOMBERG) – China’s financial hub of Shanghai has reined in Covid-19 transmission risks at the community level, excluding cases in quarantine centres, with six of its 16 districts attaining zero-Covid status, an official said on Sunday (May 1).

This status is achieved when a district has three consecutive days with no new daily increases in infections, city government official Mr Gu Honghui told a news conference.

Public transport will be allowed to resume in five of the six districts, a city health official added, but did not say when.

The six districts that have met the threshold are mainly in the suburbs of Shanghai, and authorities vowed to continue implementing strict movement restrictions in other areas. 

The financial hub that’s home to 25 million people reported a total of 7,872 new cases April 30, down from 10,181 the previous day, according to a statement from the city government.

All new infections were restricted to quarantined areas for the second straight day. 

Despite the fall in transmissions, Shanghai will launch a new round of citywide PCR and antigen tests from Sunday until May 7, Mr Gu said.

Halting the community spread of Covid-19 would mark an important milestone in Shanghai’s containment efforts and embolden officials to start lifting restrictions and allow factories to resume production.

Southern technology hub Shenzhen and north-eastern province Jilin have begun rolling back curbs and restarting manufacturing after similar containment milestones were achieved.

Chinese officials are now more focused on curtailing the spread of the virus within communities rather than seeking to totally eliminate cases as the highly infectious Omicron variant poses unprecedented challenges to the country’s Covid Zero strategy. 

When infections are found only among those already corralled into quarantine, rather than in people who are free to move around in the community, getting cases back to zero is probably only a matter of time.

The lockdown imposed on Shanghai’s residents has been one of the longest and most punishing since the experience of Wuhan, where the pathogen first emerged in late 2019.

The city’s crisis has prompted other places in China to impose more hardline measures at the merest sign of Covid-19 flareups to avoid the social and economic dislocation endured by the financial hub.

Mass testing and varying degrees of lockdown have been enacted in cities like Hangzhou, Qinhuangdao and Yiwu in the past week after just an handful of infections. 

Beijing, which recently detected infections that were spread in the community, found 59 new cases on Saturday, up from 54 the previous day, according to city authorities.

The Universal Studios theme park in Beijing announced it would temporarily close from Sunday to comply with epidemic prevention measures.

Overall, China reported 8,329 new confirmed cases of Covid-19 for April 30, the National Health Commission said on Sunday, down from 10,793 a day earlier.


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