Shanghai puts renewed emphasis on COVID, frustrating trapped residents

BEIJING (AFP) – The city of Shanghai is doubling down on curbs on the outbreak soon after easing, frustrating residents who had hoped to ease a more than month-long lockdown as the number of new cases in the Chinese financial hub fell.

On Tuesday, service was suspended on the last two subway lines still operating, the first time the city’s entire system has been shut down, according to The Paper, an online media outlet.

Teams in white protective suits have begun entering homes of people infected with the coronavirus to spray disinfectant, prompting fears for some about damage to clothing and valuables, and about leaving their keys with a community volunteer when taken into quarantine – a new requirement so disinfectant workers can enter. .

In some areas, people have been ordered Staying indoors again for a “quiet period” after being allowed out for limited shopping in recent weeks.

China’s commitment to a “coronavirus eradication” strategy, as many other countries ease restrictions and try to live with the virus, is forcing a growing economy. and human costs. Very strict measures were needed to control the outbreak because the omicron variant spreads easily. China’s ruling Communist Party, which is eyeing a major party congress this fall, shows no signs of abating anytime soon.

Fengxian District, a suburban area in southern Shanghai, entered a “quiet period” on Monday, with permits suspended for residents to leave their compounds and stores and department stores closed except for delivery, the Shanghai Media Group reported.

Workers in one supermarket filled bags with celery and cooking oil and other groceries in a designated area, where delivery staff took them. Xie Yu, the manager, said the store is also trying to restock high-demand merchandise. “When offline sales resume, customers will be able to buy what they need right away,” he said.

Escape from Shanghai is nearly impossible, but that hasn’t stopped an unofficial guidebook – detailing how to navigate lockdown controls and get a seat on the few trains and planes leaving the city – from going viral on social media. Many residents of the city of 25 million people have shared their frustration with the renewed restrictions in chat groups.

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The daily number of new cases in Shanghai had fallen to about 3,000 by Monday, down from 26,000 in mid-April. Six more deaths linked to COVID-19 have been reported, bringing the death toll from the outbreak to 553.

Meanwhile, Beijing began another three-day round of mass testing of its millions of residents on Tuesday in a bid to prevent the outbreak in the country’s capital from growing to the dimensions of Shanghai. The city, which recorded 74 new cases on Monday, has closed individual buildings and apartment complexes, closed about 60 subway stations and banned dining in restaurants.Only take out and delivery are allowed.

The outbreak did not explode, but it did not stop spreading. Beijing spokesman Xu Hejian described the situation on Tuesday as a “stalemate” and said the city needed to continue its strict measures.

While traffic is sparse in Beijing, it is virtually non-existent in Shanghai, where the lockdown has lasted longer and citywide. Video filmed Monday for the Associated Press showed a silent and deserted city, with a very occasional car and a few food delivery drivers on motorbikes moving on empty roads. Most people are confined to their apartments or apartment complexes, although there has been some relief in remote suburban areas without new cases in their communities.

But notifications issued in many areas of Shanghai In recent days it has ordered residents to stay at home and prevented them from receiving non-essential deliveries as part of a “quiet period” that lasts until Wednesday or longer. And the notices said the measures could be extended depending on the results of mass testing. The sudden re-emphasis surprised the population.

On Tuesday, Shanghai official Jin Chen appeared to acknowledge the complaints about disinfecting people’s homes, thanking them for their cooperation and saying the government would analyze and fix any problems. He said residents can inform teams of any items that need protection.

“Doing home disinfection is an important part of comprehensive prevention and control of the epidemic,” he said at a daily news conference on the virus.

Constitutional law professor Tong Ziwei recently published an article calling on Shanghai to end what he called “excessive epidemic prevention measures” such as isolating residents and forcing them to hand over their house keys, saying the requirements run counter to the rule of law.

The article has been removed from the Internet as the government censors criticism of its response.

Thousands of people were forced into quarantine centers After they have tested positive or have been in contact with an infected person, a standard measure in China’s no-spreading approach to the coronavirus.

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Associated Press researchers Si Chen in Shanghai and Yu Bing in Beijing and video producer Caroline Chen in Guangzhou, China contributed to this report.

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