Much of Shanghai Locked Down as Mass COVID-19 Testing Begins

BEIJING — China began locking down most of its largest city of Shanghai on Monday as a coronavirus outbreak surges and amid questions about the economic toll of the nation’s “zero-COVID” strategy.

Shanghai’s Pudong financial district and nearby areas will be locked down from early Monday to Friday as citywide mass testing gets underway, the local government said. The vast central area that runs west of Shanghai’s Huangpu River will be subject to a second five-day lockdown beginning Friday.

Residents will need to be at home. Deliveries will not be allowed to leave the premises. Public transport will also be suspended and offices closed.

Continue reading: China doubles down on zero-COVID

Many communities in the 26-million population have already been taken into lockdown. Residents are required to take multiple COVID-19 tests. And Shanghai’s Disney theme park is among the businesses that closed earlier.

Shanghai also detected 3,500 more cases of infection Sunday. All but 50 people were positive for COVID-19 but did not show symptoms. China categorizes such cases separately from “confirmed cases” — those in people who are sick — leading to much lower totals in daily reports.

China reported over 56,000 cases of infection this month. The majority of these were caused by a rise in Jilin, a northeastern province.

In response to its biggest outbreak in two years, China has continued to enforce what it calls the “dynamic zero-COVID” approach, calling that the most economical and effective prevention strategy against COVID-19.

This requires mass testing and lockdowns. Close contacts are often quarantined in their homes or at a central government facility. It is important to eradicate the spread of the virus in communities as soon as possible. This can mean locking down entire towns.

Officials like Xi Jinping the Communist Party leader have encouraged greater targeted action, while local officials take a more radical approach and are concerned about being fired or punished because they fail to stop outbreaks.

Continue reading: How Hong Kong Became China’s Biggest COVID Problem

With China’s economic growth already slowing, the extreme measures are seen as worsening difficulties striking employment, consumption and even global supply chains.

While China’s vaccination rate is around 87%, it is considerably lower among older people.

Data released this month by the National Center for Vaccine Information showed that more than 52 million older adults have not been vaccinated against COVID-19. The booster rates are low as well. Only 56.4% have received a booster shot for people aged 60 to 69, and only 48.4% received one for people age 70 to 79.

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