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Shanghai lockdown deepens after new spike in asymptomatic COVID cases

Shanghai lockdown deepens after new spike in asymptomatic COVID cases

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – China’s main financial hub Shanghai expanded transport restrictions on Tuesday after a day of intense citywide testing that saw new COVID-19 cases rise to more than 13,000, with no end to the lockdown in sight. .

After a more piecemeal approach originally aimed at minimizing economic disruption, Shanghai imposed broader restrictions last week as authorities struggle to contain what has become the largest outbreak of COVID-19 in the city.

The lockdown now covers more than 25 million people after restrictions in western areas of the city were extended until further notice in what has become a testing ground for the government’s zero-tolerance “dynamic clearance” approach and its ability to contain the highly contagious Omicron variant.

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“At present, the epidemic prevention and control in Shanghai is at the most difficult and most dangerous stage,” Wu Qianyu, an official with the Municipal Health Commission, said at a press briefing on Tuesday. “We must adhere to the general policy of dynamic clearance without hesitation and without hesitation.”

On its official WeChat channel, the city government reported 13,086 new cases of coronavirus on April 4, up from 8,581 the day before, after a citywide surveillance testing program that saw more than 25 million people surveyed in 24 hours.

The local government said it collected 25.67 million samples in 2.4 million test tubes on Monday, and nearly 80% of the total had been tested by 8:00 a.m. Tuesday. Any positive results are monitored at the individual level.

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Asymptomatic cases fell on Monday to 268 from 425 the day before. The proportion of official asymptomatic infections is still much lower than the rest of the world, which experts attributed to the city’s proactive screening process.

At least 38,000 personnel have been deployed to Shanghai from other regions in what state media have described as the largest nationwide medical operation since the lockdown of Wuhan in early 2020 after the first known outbreak of the coronavirus.

Authorities said late on Monday that they would impose further restrictions on the city’s transportation networks from Tuesday, with more metro lines suspended.

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Thousands of Shanghai residents have been locked up in rudimentary “central quarantine” facilities after they tested positive, whether or not they had symptoms.

It remains unclear when and how they will be released, Jane Poloputko, the Ukrainian marketing director now detained in the city’s largest quarantine center, told Reuters.

“No one knows how many tests we need to get out,” she said.

As members of the public continue to express concerns about Shanghai’s strict measures, and videos are shared via social media, Sun Chunlan, China’s vice premier in charge of COVID prevention, urged grassroots party organizations to “do everything possible” to help residents. in solving their problems, such as getting medicine, food and water.

Analysts outside China have warned of the economic costs of the country’s tireless campaign to curb infections.

“The most noticeable thing in Shanghai is the difficulty the authorities face in managing logistics, particularly the conditions in the central quarantine facilities,” said Michael Herson, a China analyst at Eurasia Consulting Group.

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“Given that Shanghai has a highly capable government, the current problems are a warning to local governments across China where production capacity is not high and large outbreaks can push resources to their limits,” he added.

Nationwide, China reported 1,235 confirmed cases of the coronavirus on April 4, down from 1,405 the day before, including 1,173 cases of local transmission. The number of new asymptomatic cases was 15,355, compared to 11,862 the day before.

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(Reporting by David Stanway and Brenda Goh) Editing by Stephen Coates and Richard Boleyn

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.