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Shanghai to extend lockdown of 26 million people to review COVID test results

Shanghai to extend lockdown of 26 million people to review COVID test results
  • Shanghai reported 9,006 asymptomatic and asymptomatic cases on April 3
  • City launches biggest public health response since virus emerged
  • Citizens complain about unsanitary conditions in quarantine centers

SHANGHAI, April 4 (Reuters) – Shanghai will remain closed, authorities said on Monday as they review the results of an exercise to test all of its 26 million residents for COVID-19.

The city began its two-stage lockdown on March 28, initially in the eastern districts of Shanghai, and later expanded to include the entire city.

The restrictions, which have significantly disrupted daily life and business operations in China’s financial hub, were initially scheduled to expire at 5 a.m. local time (9 p.m. GMT) on Tuesday.

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“The city will continue to implement the seal management, control and strict implementation of ‘stay at home’, except for medical treatment,” the city government said in its official WeChat account.

He did not indicate when the restrictions could be lifted.

The country sent the military and thousands of health care workers to Shanghai to help conduct COVID-19 tests for all of its 26 million residents on Monday, in one of the country’s largest public health responses.

Some residents woke up before dawn to queue for health care workers in white to clear their throats as part of a DNA test at their apartment complex.

The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) on Sunday sent more than 2,000 medical workers from various departments of the army, navy and joint logistics support forces to Shanghai, a newspaper of the armed forces reported.

About 38,000 health care workers from provinces such as Jiangsu, Zhejiang and the capital, Beijing, were sent to Shanghai, according to state media, which showed them arriving packed with suitcases and masked, on a high-speed train and plane.

It’s China’s biggest public health response since it dealt with the initial COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan, where the novel coronavirus was first detected in late 2019. The People’s Liberation Army has sent more than 4,000 medical personnel to Hubei province, where the State Council said the People’s Liberation Army has sent more than 4,000 medical personnel to Hubei province, where Wuhan is, at the time.

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Shanghai, which began a two-stage lockdown on March 28 that was expanded to limit practically all residents in their homes, reported 8,581 asymptomatic COVID-19 cases and 425 asymptomatic COVID cases on April 3. Sunday.

The city emerged as a test case for China’s strategy to get rid of COVID based on testing, tracing and quarantining all positive cases and their close contacts.

The country has 12,400 institutions capable of processing tests for up to 900 million people per day, a high-ranking Chinese health official was reported last month.

China primarily uses pool testing, a process in which up to 20 swab samples are mixed together for faster processing.

The city has also converted several hospitals, gyms, apartment complexes and other venues into central quarantine sites, including the Shanghai New International Exhibition Center that can accommodate 15,000 patients at full capacity.

Shanghai police said on Saturday that individuals who refuse to undergo a COVID examination without justified reason will face administrative or criminal punishment.

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The increase in state support for Shanghai comes as the city is strained by the demands of the country’s “dynamic clearance” strategy, with some residents complaining of crowded and unsanitary central quarantine centers, as well as difficulties in securing food and medical assistance.

Some are beginning to question the policies, wondering why children with coronavirus are being separated from their parents. Western diplomats have also urged China not to do so. Read more

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Children can be accompanied by their parents if the parents are also infected, but separated if they are not, Shanghai official Wu Qianyu said at a press conference on Monday, adding that policies are still being refined.

There has also been a growing public questioning why mild or asymptomatic infections – the majority of Shanghai’s cases – cannot be isolated at home. Read more

A Shanghai resident, who asked not to be named for privacy reasons, told Reuters he was taken to a central quarantine facility Sunday night after reporting a positive result on a self-test more than a week ago.

Another antigen test on Saturday showed he was no longer infected, but authorities insisted he be sent to quarantine, where he was placed in an apartment where he had to share a toilet with two other patients, both of whom still had the virus.

“How is this isolation?” He said, adding that he now fears a re-infection. “I’m not in the mood to do anything right now, I can’t sleep.”

On Monday, videos circulating on the WeChat messaging app showed dozens of people rushing to snatch bedding and supplies from the dirt floor of what the poster said was a quarantine center whose buildings are still littered with building materials.

Reuters could not independently verify the footage.

Workers under pressure

The pressure on the city’s health care workers and Communist Party members has also been great, working around the clock to manage the city’s lockdown and deal with residents’ frustrations.

Pictures and videos circulated on Chinese social media of exhausted workers and volunteers sleeping on plastic chairs or on the grass outside apartment complexes, or being reprimanded by residents.

On Saturday, the city’s China Pudong Center for Disease Control said it was investigating a leaked recording of a call between a staff member and a sick relative, who was baffled by his father’s COVID test results.

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The CDC employee, identified by local media as infectious disease expert Zhu Weiping, can be heard saying indignantly that she has raised her concerns about current quarantine and testing rules and that the virus has become “political.”

Reuters was unable to independently verify the recording, which was spread on Chinese social media.

Users of social media platform Weibo have started the hashtag “Protect Zhu Weiping”, which by Monday had reached 2.9 million views, amid fears that she could face a penalty for speaking out against the official line.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has urged the country to curb the momentum of the outbreak as soon as possible while sticking to the policy of “dynamic disinfection”. Read more

On Saturday, Vice Premier Sun Chunlan, who was sent to Shanghai by the central government, urged the city to “take resolute and rapid steps” to curb the epidemic.

The eastern city of Suzhou said it had detected a version of the Omicron BA.1.1 variant that did not match any other variant in the local database or the international variant tracking database GISAID, state TV reported.

The state-backed Science and Technology daily said it was still not clear if the virus was a new sub-branch of Omicron and that the emergence of one or two new copies was normal given the prevalence of Omicron in China, citing an unidentified expert who has a native. Database.

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Additional reporting by Brenda Goh, David Kirton, and Shanghai Newsroom; Editing by Stephen Coates, Jerry Doyle, Raju Gopalakrishnan, Ed Osmond and Chizu Nomiyama

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.