Shanghai declares it has reached zero covid rate, but confinement continues
- May 18, 2022
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China, which faces the most serious outbreak of covid since the beginning of the pandemic, adopted tough restrictions in early April to contain contagions.
The city of Shanghai declared this Tuesday (17th) that he managed to eliminate the contagions of covid in all districts among the population that is not complying with quarantine, which caused great misunderstanding because millions of people remain confined in China’s largest metropolis.
China, which faces the most serious outbreak of covid since the beginning of the pandemic, adopted tough restrictions in early April to contain contagions, within its “covid zero” strategy.
While most countries adopt living with the virus, the Chinese government maintains a policy that consists of large confinements, quarantine isolation of the infected and large-scale testing.
In Shanghai, the lockdown of 25 million people since early April has sparked unusual protests against authorities in the face of prolonged confinement, food shortages and distribution problems.
“Shanghai’s 16 districts have already reached ‘covid zero’ at the community level,” Health Secretary Zhao Dandan told the press.
This means that the nearly 1,000 cases of covid-19 recorded on Tuesday were detected in quarantine establishments where the infected are isolated, not among the general population.
Vice Mayor Chen Tong announced Sunday that the city would have a phased reopening of businesses during the week, but did not release a timetable.
According to the city, only 3.8 million residents remain under a severe form of confinement, such as a ban on leaving their apartment or residential complex.
But the data provoked incredulity from many people, who believe the number is much higher.
“If society has reached a level of zero covid, why are residents of Songjiang district only allowed to leave their homes every two days?” asked a person on the social network Weibo.
Another asked if this is not a “Shanghai from a parallel universe”.
Resumption of flights and train travel
In some areas, however, the relaxation of restrictions is concrete.
Chinese media on Tuesday released images of people in a long queue outside one of Shanghai’s railway stations after service resumed.
Several airlines resumed domestic flights with departures from Shanghai this week after a suspension brought on by the Covid outbreak.
However, residents can only leave the city with a permit and after passing several tests.
Chinese authorities show no willingness to soften the covid control policy, despite the cost to trade, tourism, vehicle sales and the job market.
The strategy allowed China to contain the virus and virtually return to normality after controlling the first wave of the virus in 2020, but in recent months several outbreaks have been recorded in the country.
Caution increased after the announcement on Monday of the detection of the first case of the subvariant BA.2.12.1, considered very contagious, in a passenger from Kenya.
The capital Beijing practices daily tests on a large part of its 22 million inhabitants, who fear facing a severe confinement like in Shanghai.
Although only a few dozen cases a day were detected, the city closed restaurants, bars, gyms, parks and ordered telecommuting.