Covid in China: 23 cities in total, partial lockdown affecting 193mn people

Shanghai’s two-phased lockdown, supposed to end on Tuesday, is set to continue following a record surge in Covid-19 cases.
Empty roads during a phased lockdown due to Covid-19 in Shanghai, China, on Tuesday. (Bloomberg)
Empty roads during a phased lockdown due to Covid-19 in Shanghai, China, on Tuesday. (Bloomberg)
Updated on Apr 05, 2022 05:15 PM IST
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BySutirtho Patranobis I Beijing

Some 23 Chinese cities are under total or partial Covid-19 lockdown, affecting an estimated 193 million people in areas accounting for 13.6% of its gross domestic product, the Nomura brokerage said in a note on Tuesday, quoted by Reuters.

In Shanghai, tens of thousands of medics have been deployed, state media reports said.

A Xinhua report said 50,000 workers had fanned out across the city to collect swab samples for nucleic acid testing, which was completed by early Tuesday.

Shanghai’s two-phased lockdown, supposed to end on Tuesday, is set to continue following a record surge in Covid-19 cases in which the city logged 13,354 new infections, including 268 symptomatic ones for Monday, the sharpest increase since the start of the pandemic.

The whole of Shanghai with nearly 25 million residents will likely be kept under indefinite restrictions with authorities doing away with separate measures for the eastern and western sides of the city as was initially planned.

Shanghai is now the largest city to be locked down to date since early 2020.

Overall, mainland China reported a record 16,412 fresh Covid cases, another high since early 2020.

The total included 1,173 locally transmitted symptomatic cases for Monday, the national health commission (NHC) said in its daily report on Tuesday.

Over 38,000 medics from 15 Chinese provinces and cities were in Shanghai to help contain the ongoing outbreak led by the fast-spreading Omicron variant of Covid.

The financial hub is battling its worst outbreak since the virus was first detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019, straining its health infrastructure and raising questions about China’s Covid-control policies.

Residential communities have begun distributing packets of Traditional Chinese Medicines (TCM) to control symptoms of fever.

“The pandemic (in Shanghai) is still at its peak period and the situation is extremely severe,” Gu Honghui, a top Shanghai government official said on Tuesday.

Health authorities are rushing to make new arrangements to treat more patients in the coming days.

In addition to the approximately 47,700 beds in designated and improvised hospitals reserved for Covid-19 patients, arrangements were being made for 30,000 additional beds.

Patients are being tested at temporary locations, such as hotels, stadiums, and conference halls.

“The number of cases exceeded 10,000 for the first time (in Shanghai), bringing the total to 13,354. In this wave of epidemics since March, more than 73,000 positive infections have been reported,” Gu said.

“Over 11,000 medics have assumed responsibility for work in temporary hospitals, and over 23,000 medical workers are responsible for collecting nucleic acid samples,” Jiao Yahui, a senior NHC official said, according to a Xinhua news agency report.

Nearly 4,000 people have been dispatched to support the work in the Covid-19 testing lab, the report said.

Medical experts, according to a report in the state-run tabloid Global Times, said the latest outbreak in Shanghai is larger on scale than Wuhan in early 2020, but less severe and with less direct losses given increased knowledge of the virus, and accumulated experience in mobilising resources.

Wu Qianyu, a Shanghai health commission official, said: “Shanghai will adhere to the ‘dynamic zero-Covid’ policy without reservation and will achieve the zero-Covid goal as soon as possible.”

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