Shanghai’s Covid Measures to Remain Even as Spread Slows

Bloomberg — Shanghai’s measures to stem community spread of Covid will remain in place, even as infections drop and the city reported no new cases outside quarantined areas on Friday for the first time since the recent outbreak started.

The financial hub’s fight against the outbreak “remains in a crucial stage,” as the situation is still “severe and complex,” Zhao Dandan, deputy head of the local health commission, told a briefing Saturday, without addressing the significance of the new numbers.

A city with 25 million people reported 10181 infections on April 29. This is down from 15032 yesterday. According to Saturday’s statement, all were in lockdown and were removed from previously identified symptomatic patients.

China’s economic activity contracted sharply in April as the lockdown of Shanghai and other areas around the country to contain the spread of Covid-19 closed factories, snarled roads and stopped people from consuming, escalating concerns about further disruption to global supply chains.

There was a widespread slump in April with lower factory output and a much smaller service demand than expected. The purchasing managers indexes are the first official April data and show the extent of the damage to the economy due to the outbreak and the government’s Covid Zero policies.

While Shanghai makes progress toward halting community spread, a crucial milestone in its disruptive containment effort to bring the city’s worst outbreak under control, Beijing is tightening measures as the capital seeks to prevent its flareup from growing.

To enter public places or use the subway system, Beijing residents will need to present negative Covid results within seven days starting May 5. Beijing’s cinemas were closed during Saturday’s five-day Labor Day holiday. The Beijing Daily had reported this earlier.

The local health commission announced a rollout of “normalized” mass tests to all 22 million citizens after the holiday, according to its Saturday press conference. After Friday’s first three rounds of testing, which filtered out 295 cases, it is now necessary to take swabs at least once per week. An outbreak involving schoolchildren a week ago put several communities under lockdown, unprecedented in China’s political center.

Beijing also announced that it would not allow people to eat in restaurants at night during holidays and will make more efforts to deliver food. To ease the strain on medical services, Beijing added more than 4,000 beds in hospitals for Covid-related infections and is currently building shelter hospitals.

Chinese officials now focus more on reducing the spread of the virus in communities than trying to decrease the number of cases to absolute zero. The highly infectious variant, the omicron variety, poses unique challenges for the Covid Zero strategy.

According to health ministry data, the nationwide count of Covid confirmed cases dropped to 1,424 Friday from 5,659 yesterday.

Shanghai citizens shouldn’t relax efforts to stem the community spread of the virus, and elderly residents should get vaccinated as soon as possible, Zhao said. There were 47 confirmed cases of the virus in Shanghai on Friday. Their average age was 82.4. They all died of underlying conditions and only three of the victims were vaccinated.

An official said that the city would continue to push for businesses to resume their services after the initial batch of companies, which included Tesla Inc., was allowed.

(Updates with Beijing’s Covid measures from paragraph six)

–With assistance from Dong Lyu.

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