No Covid in China: Shanghai areas return to lockdown a day after restrictions are eased

Shanghai removed the two-month quarantine on Wednesday, allowing most of the 25 million residents to leave their communities. But nearly 2 million people remained chained to their homes in areas designated by the government as “high risk”.

At a press conference on Thursday, Shanghai officials said seven new cases of Covid had been discovered in the Jing’an and Pudong metropolitan areas, prompting four areas to be quickly sealed off and designated as “medium risk areas.” their homes for 14 days.

Their 26 close contacts and 106 secondary contacts have been placed in state quarantine and more than 470,000 people have been tested. according to officials.

The return to lockdown is the latest reminder that despite the easing of restrictions, the government’s zero Covid policy of mass testing, extensive quarantines and sudden lockdowns will continue to dominate daily life.

While Shanghai’s businesses and shops have been allowed to reopen and subways and buses have resumed operations, residents still need to test negative for Covid within 72 hours to use public transportation and visit public places.

The feeling of joy and relief among residents that the lockdown was lifted soon turned into growing frustration as long queues formed at testing sites across the city throughout Wednesday and Thursday.

Some stretched for hundreds of meters in the scorching summer heat, while others held out late into the night, according to videos posted by residents on social media. A notice has appeared at the test site warning residents that the wait could take four and a half hours.
Shanghai officials on Thursday acknowledged and apologized for the long wait, citing a lack of resources and equipment, despite authorities building over 10,000 testing sites and training thousands of workers to take throat swabs.

Some of the test sites were not operational, officials said, while others only opened for a short period of time during the day and were understaffed, officials said, promising to improve the situation.

Many citizens are still haunted by fears about the resumption of the regime of self-isolation. Crowds of people were filmed Thursday morning fleeing the International Financial Center mall in Lujiazui financial district after it suddenly stopped people from entering or exiting, a common practice in places where positive cases are found, according to videos circulating on social media.

The mall later issued a notice saying it reopened at 12:30 p.m. after undergoing a full fumigation, but without confirming if the location had a positive Covid case.

A poorly managed lockdown in Shanghai has led to widespread food shortages and a lack of access to healthcare, fueling anger and frustration among residents. But Chinese leader Xi Jinping has vowed to continue the zero-spread Covid policy even as the rest of the world learns to live with the virus and overcome the pandemic.

On Thursday, the People’s Daily, the mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party, said on its front page that “the battle to defend Shanghai has achieved major milestones” under Xi’s leadership.

“Shanghai is actively exploring new mechanisms to normalize prevention and control in the metropolitan area, and is accelerating the return of economic and social development to normal,” the statement said.

Additional information from Reuters.

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