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Millions of Shanghai Residents Brace for Weekend of Covid-19 Tests

Authorities have ordered tests for all residents in 15 of Shanghai’s 16 districts this weekend, with five districts barring residents from leaving their homes

Relocation agents got a flood of inquiries from middle-class Chinese keen to leave the country and live abroad during the recent Covid lockdowns in Shanghai and other cities.
Ordinary Chinese are "deeply frustrated" that their freedoms hinge on mandatory Covid-19 tests, the FT said, while the economy teeters on the edge of recession. File photo: Reuters.


Millions of Shanghai residents are enduring yet another round of mass tests as authorities sought to contain the spread of Covid-19 cases tied to a beauty salon.

Authorities have ordered polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests for all residents in 15 of Shanghai’s 16 districts this weekend, with five districts barring residents from leaving their homes during the testing period.

The new tests come just 10 days after the city lifted a gruelling two-month lockdown aimed at eliminating the community spread of Covid-19.

On Saturday, Shanghai reported seven new local symptomatic cases for the previous day, of which six were detected outside of quarantined areas.

The city also recorded nine new local asymptomatic Covid-19 cases, up from six the previous day.

Underscoring the challenge of enforcing China’s zero-Covid policy, which authorities say is needed to protect the elderly and the medical system, the country’s capital on Saturday reported a spike in cases.

Beijing reported 36 new local symptomatic Covid-19 cases, up from seven a day earlier, and 25 new local asymptomatic cases, up from just one the previous day.

The capital on Thursday started to tighten some Covid-19 curbs again, with at least two districts – including its most populous, Chaoyang – closing some venues after a flare-up in a busy neighbourhood known for its nightlife, shopping and embassies.

The cases were linked to a drinking establishment known as Heaven Supermarket Bar. Infections have since surged, with Beijing saying on Saturday that all of the 61 new cases uncovered in the city on Friday had either visited the bar or had links to it.


Beijing’s State of Anxiety

So far a total of 69 cases linked to the Beijing bar have been reported, with the afflicted from 14 of Beijing’s 16 districts, throwing the city of 22 million back into a state of anxiety.

Beijing had relaxed less than two weeks ago widespread COVID curbs imposed to fight a major outbreak that began in April.

The surge is reminiscent of new Covid-19 cases in Hong Kong, which have increased since bars were allowed to reopen until 2am, prompting some officials to suggest a retightening of gathering restrictions as the Chinese territory fears a sixth wave of Covid-19.

The sprawling Universal Beijing Resort late on Friday rescinded a plan to reopen, saying it would remain closed until further notice.

In total, mainland China reported 210 new coronavirus cases for June 10, of which 79 were symptomatic and 131 were asymptomatic, the National Health Commission said on Saturday.

That was up from 151 new cases a day earlier – 45 symptomatic and 106 asymptomatic infections, which China counts separately.

There were no new deaths, leaving the nation’s fatalities at 5,226. As of Friday, mainland China had confirmed 224,659 cases with symptoms.

Hong Kong on Friday reported 291 additional cases that tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 virus.


  • Reuters, with additional editing by George Russell



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George Russell

George Russell is a freelance writer and editor based in Hong Kong who has lived in Asia since 1996. His work has been published in the Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, New York Post, Variety, Forbes and the South China Morning Post.


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