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Shanghai Sees 58 New Covid Cases in Setback for Residents

China’s zero-Covid policy has stirred anger in Shanghai, where millions have been confined indoors for over a month, but the death toll fell to 32 on Sunday


People in protective gear as covid surges in Shanghai
WHO emergencies director Mike Ryan said the impact of a "zero-Covid" policy on human rights also needs to be taken into consideration. Photo: Reuters.

 

Shanghai authorities reported 58 new Covid-19 cases on Monday, in a possible setback to China’s commercial capital, where a decline in deaths over the weekend had given hope to citizens desperate to emerge from a long-running lockdown.

Authorities reported 32 new deaths on Sunday, down from 38 on Saturday, plus 6,606 new asymptomatic cases, from 7,084 the previous day.

China’s zero-Covid policy has stirred public anger in Shanghai, where millions have been confined indoors for over a month, some sealed inside fenced residential compounds.

Shanghai residents breathed a sigh of relief at the weekend on news that no cases had been confirmed outside quarantine areas for two days, but bad news came on Monday with the 58 new infections.

Authorities did not comment on the new cases at a media briefing but members of the public weighed in online.

“They announced that they stamped out cases at the community level too early,” one person commented on the Weibo social media platform.

But many people were encouraged by the declining death toll.

“There is hope for May,” another Weibo user said.

The coronavirus first emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019 and officials managed to keep outbreaks largely under control for two years with lockdowns and travel bans.

But the fast-spreading Omicron variant has tested China’s “zero-Covid” policy this year, an important one for President Xi Jinping who is expected to secure a precedent-breaking third leadership term.

 

New Focus On Beijing

China’s Covid policy looks increasingly bizarre to much of the outside world, where many governments have eased restrictions, or thrown them off altogether, in a bid to “live with Covid” even though infections are spreading.

China has given no hint of deviating from its policy despite a mounting toll on the world’s second-largest economy, and the ripples of disruption travelling out through global supply chains.

In the capital, home to 22 million people, authorities tightened Covid restrictions over the five-day Labour Day holiday that runs until Wednesday, traditionally one the busiest tourist seasons.

Beijing, with dozens of daily infections in an outbreak now entering two weeks, has not locked down, instead relying, at least for now, on mass testing to locate and isolate infections.

Beijing’s restaurants are closed for dining in and some apartment blocks are sealed shut. The streets are quiet and the residents who do venture out have to show negative coronavirus tests to enter most public venues.

Authorities are tracking down close contacts of confirmed cases, warning them to stay at home and contact authorities, and calling on everyone to abide by lockdown rules.

China reported 7,822 new Covid-19 cases on Sunday, down from 8,329 new cases a day earlier, the National Health Commission said on Monday.

All of China’s 32 new deaths were in Shanghai, taking the country’s overall death toll since the virus emerged to 5,092.

India, the only country with a comparable population to China’s 1.4 billion people, has officially recorded more than half a million deaths, though some health experts believe its toll is even higher.

 

  • Reuters with additional editing by Jim Poallrd

 

 

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Jim Pollard

Jim Pollard is an Australian journalist based in Thailand since 1999. He worked for News Ltd papers in Sydney, Perth, London and Melbourne before travelling through SE Asia in the late 90s. He was a senior editor at The Nation for 17+ years and has a family in Bangkok.

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