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COVID: Shanghai to reopen subways to ease restrictions

BEIJING –

The locked down Chinese metropolis of Shanghai will reopen four of its 20 subway lines on Sunday as it slowly eases pandemic restrictions that have kept most residents locked in their apartment complexes for more than six weeks.

The city will also restart 273 bus routes connecting major urban centers, airports, railway stations and hospitals as it resumes inter-district public transport, Yu Fulin, director of the Shanghai Transport Commission, said at a daily pandemic briefing on Thursday.

It wasn’t immediately clear how frequent the service would be. Trial bus services resumed in three outlying areas this week, with buses running every 30 to 90 minutes during the day.

The lockdown of China’s biggest city has dealt a blow to the economy and frustrated residents, especially as many countries elsewhere around the world back off such harsh measures as they try to live with the virus. But officials have stuck to a “zero-COVID” approach, saying lifting restrictions could put a strain on the public health system and lead to more deaths, especially among under-vaccinated elderly people.

The outbreak in Shanghai has killed 580 people, according to official statistics, making it the deadliest since the first outbreak in the city of Wuhan in early 2020.

Even as new cases fall, authorities are slowly and deliberately easing restrictions to ensure the virus stops spreading outside of quarantine facilities and areas of known infection.

The city of 25 million recorded about 700 new cases on Wednesday, accounting for most of the roughly 1,000 cases nationwide.

Authorities in Beijing, which reported 55 new cases, closed some subway stations and bus routes, banned eating in restaurants and strongly encouraged residents to work from home to try to stop a Shanghai-scale outbreak in the Chinese capital to prevent.

Elsewhere in China, the city of Guang’an in southwest China’s Sichuan province went into lockdown on Wednesday. The province recorded about 150 new cases.

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