Indian consulate in Shanghai suspends in-person services amid lockdown
The Indian consulate in Shanghai on Tuesday announced that it was indefinitely suspending in-person consular services in light of the continuous lockdown of China’s financial hub, which is battling its worst Covid outbreak yet.
“As China’s Shanghai continues to remain sealed amid the sharp rise in Covid-19 infections, the Consulate General of India will remain inaccessible and will not be in a position to provide consular services in person,” the consulate said in a statement, adding, however, consular services will remain functional remotely.
The consulate did not indicate when it would resume in-person services given the uncertainty over the outbreak situation in the city.
Shanghai reported 25,141 new locally-transmitted asymptomatic coronavirus cases for Tuesday, up from 22,348 a day earlier, with symptomatic cases also rising to 1,189 from 994, city authorities said in their daily bulletin on Wednesday.
The 26,330 confirmed Covid-19 infections for Tuesday is the daily record for the 11th time in 12 days, underscoring the difficulty in controlling spread of the infection driven by the more transmissible Omicron variant.
Authorities in the city of around 25 million are under tremendous pressure to contain the outbreak, which has led to more than 200,000 cases since the beginning of March.
The extended restrictions and record infections have pushed the city to the brink with authorities facing numerous complaints over their handling of the outbreak and for not being able to adequately resolve problems with supplies of daily necessities and medicines.
The Shanghai police, which has deployed helicopters and drones to monitor the city, on Wednesday called on residents to “fight the epidemic with one heart ... and work together for an early victory”, adding that anyone violating the lockdown will be punished.
“Those who violate the provisions of this notice will be dealt with in strict accordance with the law by public security organs ... If it constitutes a crime, they will be investigated according to law,” the department said in a statement published in Mandarin.
Despite criticism, Shanghai officials, as well as national health authorities, have vowed to stick to China’s “dynamic-Covid” containment policies. Changes to quarantine rules, however, could soon be implemented.
“China has launched pilot programs in Shanghai, Guangzhou and six other cities to test out looser quarantine requirements for residents in locked-down communities, travellers from outside the country and the close contacts of confirmed Covid-19 cases,” the Caixin media portal reported, citing a government document.
The report said that in participating cities, centralised quarantine requirements for international travellers have been shortened from 14 to 10 days, after which they will have to spend a week under observation at home.
“Over those 17 days, they will have to take six nucleic acid tests and six antigen tests, according to the document. In the pilot cities, the same loosened requirements now apply to the close contacts of Covid-19 cases,” the report added.
Under current rules, residential communities where Covid cases have been confirmed are subject to lockdowns for 14 days after the last new case is reported. In the pilot cities, such lockdowns will now be lifted after 10 days.
The loosening of the rules is likely dictated by the economic impact of the ongoing country-wide Covid outbreak.
“Lockdowns have spread from Shanghai to other cities, big and small, over the past week. Based on our own survey, as of 11 April, 45 cities have implemented either full or partial lockdowns, covering 373 million people and accounting for around 46 trillion yuan in annual GDP. This is a big rise from the 23 cities, 193 million people, and approximately 23 trillion yuan in GDP just a week ago,” an analysis by Nomura financial service said.
A Reuters report said at least 11 Taiwanese companies, mostly making parts for electronics, said on Wednesday they were suspending production because of the disruption from China’s Covid controls.
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