The city government said Shanghai has begun a gradual blockade to curb the outbreak of Covid-19, an omicron fuel that has hit China with the highest number of cases since the early days of the pandemic.
China’s largest city will blockade the eastern half from Monday to Friday, as will the west from April 1, officials said.
A large city with a population of 25 million has become a major hotspot for outbreaks nationwide, which recently began to increase its pace in early March.
A record 3,450 symptomatic cases were reported in Shanghai on Sunday, accounting for about 70% of the country’s total with 50 symptomatic cases, the city government said on Monday.
China’s National Health Commission reported on Monday 5,134 new asymptomatic cases the day before and 1,219 locally confirmed infectious diseases.
The number of cases is not important globally, but it is the highest in China since the first few weeks of the first pandemic in Wuhan in late 2019.
Millions of people in disaster-stricken areas across the country are exposed to the blockade of the entire city.
However, Shanghai has so far avoided a complete blockade, and authorities have said it is imperative to continue to operate eastern China’s ports and financial hubs for the benefit of both the domestic and global economies. ..
The city government announced earlier in a public notice that a two-part blockade would be implemented “to curb the spread of the epidemic and ensure the safety and health of people” and to eradicate cases of infection “as soon as possible”.
The vast eastern half of the city, known as Pudong, which includes the major international airport and financial district, will be locked down for testing from Monday morning to April 1.
The government added on April 1 that the western half of the city, known as Puxi, featuring the historic Bund riverfront, will be closed until April 5.
Residents were told to stay indoors during the blockade, and all corporate and government officials not involved in providing critical services were advised to work from home.
People involved in the provision of important services such as gas, electricity, transportation, sanitation and food supply are exempt from the stay-at-home order.
The Shanghai Department of Public Safety said it had closed bridges and tunnels across the river and concentrated highway tollhouses in the eastern part of the city until April 1. Similar restrictions will be imposed from April 1st to 5th in the area west of the Huangpo River.
On Saturday, members of the city’s pandemic response headquarters vowed that Shanghai would not close.
“If our city, Shanghai, were to shut down completely, there would be many international cargo ships floating in the East China Sea,” said Wu Huang, a task force medical expert, the city government.
“This will affect the national economy as a whole and the world economy.”
Until now, the Chinese government has controlled the virus nationwide through strict zero-tolerance measures, such as blocking large numbers of cities and states, even in a small number of cases.
However, authorities are nervously watching that the deadly Hong Kong Omicron surge has caused panic buying, claiming high casualties for unvaccinated elderly people in cities in southern China.
Subsequent epidemics of subspecies in mainland China have increasingly questioned the zero-tolerance approach, especially given the less serious symptoms of Omicron, given the economic implications and concerns of the public’s “pandemic fatigue”. In the meantime, it has created a dilemma in which the authorities struggle with how strongly they respond.
Shanghai sought to mitigate the turmoil with a current outbreak-focused approach featuring a 48-hour blockade of individual neighborhoods combined with extensive testing, but otherwise operated the city. I continued.
However, softer strategies have so far failed to reduce the number of cases in cities, and local blockades have caused online complaints and grocery execution in some districts.
Agence-France Presse and Reuters contributed to this report