Shanghai reported more than 27,000 coronavirus cases on Thursday, setting a new record a day after Chinese leader Xi Jinping said that the country must continue with its strict “dynamic Covid-19 clearance” policy and pandemic control measures.
The financial hub is battling China’s worst outbreak since the virus first emerged in Wuhan in late 2019, with the city’s 25 million residents remaining largely under lockdown, though restrictions were partially eased in some areas this week.
China’s policy has put millions of people into lockdown and has had a growing impact on the world’s second-largest economy, in contrast with other countries that have thrown off restrictions even though the virus is still spreading.
Xi promised those enduring lockdowns that persistence would win out in the end.
“We must persist putting people above all, life above all,” Xi said during a visit to the southern island of Hainan on Wednesday, state media reported.
“The current global pandemic is still very serious, and we cannot relax the prevention and control work. Persistence is victory.”
The coronavirus first emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019. Wuhan’s lockdown in early 2020 heralded a Chinese policy that significantly limited the spread of the virus for most of the next two years.
But new outbreaks of the fast-spreading Omicron variant began flaring early this year.
Tough Rules, Backlog of Test Results
Raising hopes for a shift in policy, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published a guide on home quarantining on its social media page on Wednesday.
Under China’s tough rules, even people with asymptomatic or very mild cases must go into quarantine at centralised facilities, where many people have complained about poor conditions.
The CDC’s guide on quarantine at home – in a well-ventilated room stocked with masks, sanitiser and other gear – raised hopes that the rule for quarantine at state facilities might be relaxed.
But when asked by a social media user in an online comment about who might be eligible for home quarantine, the CDC referred to the old rules.
Authorities in Shanghai also gave no hint of any change in strategy at a Thursday briefing.
An official said that cases in the city continued to rise despite the lockdown in part because of a backlog with test results and also because transmission between family members was still going on.
- Reuters, with additional editing by George Russell