Shanghai Covid lockdown: Some residents allowed to step out
BEIJING: Millions of Shanghai residents continued to be barred from leaving their homes despite a tentative easing of lockdown in the financial hub on Tuesday, allowing some residents to step out within their communities and neighbourhoods.
The 25 million residents of the city first faced targeted, then staggered and finally a complete lockdown from early April with the ongoing Omicron-driven Covid-19 outbreak logging 200,000 cases since March.
The lockdown measures were eased after the government faced mounting criticism over bottlenecks in the supplies of food and medicines and negative economic impact.
Overall, China reported 24,659 new Covid-19 cases for Monday, including 23,387 with no symptoms, the national health commission (NHC) said on Tuesday.
The tally included 23,346 new infections in Shanghai, 998 of whom were symptomatic.
As many as 325,303 local infections have been reported in China since March 1, Lei Zhenglong from the NHC said on Tuesday, far more than the initial number of infections in Wuhan city where the virus was first detected in late 2019.
Only two deaths, both on March 19, in the northeastern Jilin province have been reported in the current outbreak with the overall tally at 4,638.
Meanwhile, a new diplomatic tussle is brewing between China and the US after Washington ordered all “non-emergency US government employees” to be withdrawn from its Shanghai consulate because of the surge in Covid-19 cases and the measures to contain the spread.
China angry as US withdraws consulate staff
On Friday, the US state department first announced that non-emergency personnel could voluntarily leave the consulate but later made it mandatory for reasons not yet clear.
Beijing reacted sharply to the US decision.
The US should “stop political manipulation under the pretext of the epidemic, and stop smearing China”, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said on Tuesday in Beijing.
Despite criticism, Chinese health authorities have said they will continue to implement the lockdown, tweaked when required, to prevent community transmission.
“Shanghai has reported more than 10,000 new infections for 8 consecutive days, the epidemic is in a period of rapid increase, and community transmission has not been effectively contained,” Lei, quoted earlier, said.
Since April 11, the 16 Shanghai districts have implemented differentiated prevention and control management according to the three categories of closed and control areas, control areas, and prevention areas - the first one categorised as most risky with infections reported this week.
As of April 12, Shanghai has 11,135 closed and controlled areas, with a population of 15.01 million, the official said.
The second category “control areas” has not reported any infection for a week, and the last “prevention areas” for two weeks, allowing its population restricted movement.
Premier Li Keqiang warned on Monday that China needed to be “highly vigilant” against further downward pressures on the economy and said the fight against Covid-19 needed to be “coordinated” with economic and social development.
More cities are now under full or partial lockdown in China compared to last week, according to a note by Nomura financial services, shared with Hindustan Times.
373mn under full, partial lockdowns
“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 mn people and accounting for around 46 trillion yuan ($7.2 trillion) in annual GDP. This is a big rise from the 23 cities, 193mn people, and approximately 23 trillion yuan ($3.6 trillion) in GDP just a week ago,” the note said.
These 45 cities make up 26.4% of China’s population and 40.3% of China’s GDP, but these figures may significantly underestimate the full impact of the ratcheted up ZCS (Zero Covid-19 Strategy), as many other cities have been carrying out mass testing district by district, and mobility has been significantly restricted in most parts of China, the Nomura note added.
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