Covid-19 cases in Shanghai continued to fall, prompting authorities on Monday to announce plans to gradually reopen the city after six weeks of severe lockdowns that had negatively impacted the Chinese economy .
According to China’s National Health Commission, Shanghai reported a total of 938 new cases – all within areas with the strictest quarantine restrictions – and four deaths.
The city’s vice mayor Zong Ming said 15 of Shanghai’s 16 districts have achieved zero Covid status, meaning no new cases for three days among people who are not already under quarantine in a district.
For the first time since the initial lockdown, authorities on Monday offered a clear timetable for Shanghai’s reopening, which would be done in phases, with movement restrictions in place until April 21.
Pending cases not recovering, which Zong said authorities are “remaining sober” about, they plan to begin restoring normalcy to the city starting June 1.
But residents of the city, who have been struggling with multiple issues including food shortages, remained skeptical on social media.
China’s capital Beijing reported 54 new cases on Monday and some residents have been asked to continue working from home while school classes stay online and restaurants are offered takeout only.
575. That is the total number of deaths Shanghai has reported since its current outbreak began in March. These deaths now account for more than 10% of all Covid-19 deaths reported in China since the pandemic began.
As expected by many, the protracted lockdown in Shanghai, China’s financial hub, has had a significant impact on the country’s economy. In April, retail sales in China fell 11.1% year-on-year as stores, restaurants and other venues remained closed in Shanghai, parts of Beijing and other cities in eastern China. The country’s manufacturing output also fell 2.9% as key factories remained closed. The country’s export growth slowed sharply in April, growing just 3.7% yoy, down sharply from 15.7% in March.
China has zealously stuck to its “zero Covid” plan despite current outbreaks in Shanghai and Beijing being fueled by the highly infectious BA.2 omicron variant of the coronavirus. Any efforts to question the no-compromise strategy – which includes strict lockdowns and mass testing to contain outbreaks – have met with opposition and censorship from the state. Last week, China’s internet censorship banned World Health Organization chief Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, targeted after he said the policy was unsustainable. A post featuring Tedros’ comments from an official United Nations account on Weibo was removed shortly after publication, while video clips of his comments on it were removed from WeChat.
Shanghai says lockdown to ease as virus spread mostly ends (Associated Press)
Shanghai aims for return to normal on June 1 as COVID lockdown hits economy (Reuters)
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