Shanghai tightens lockdown to achieve ‘zero-COVID’ goal by end of May

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Shanghai is tightening its already strict COVID-19 lockdown in a fresh effort to wipe out infections outside of China’s biggest city’s quarantine zones by the end of the month, people familiar with the matter said.

Curbs will likely vary across the city’s 16 districts as some have already hit the target, but people said curbs on movement will generally remain through the end of May due to fears of a rebound, despite the recent drop the number of cases during the country’s worst coronavirus outbreak.

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Accounts from residents of several districts as well as social media posts showed that the government of the city of 25 million people was accelerating and expanding its efforts to transfer close contacts of positive cases to central quarantine centers.

Several residents said they were required to move to such facilities, despite testing negative, after cases were found in their buildings, fueling frustrations.

Other residents said they were told by their housing complexes on Saturday that they would no longer be able to leave their front doors or areas or receive deliveries for a week as part of efforts to reach the objective of “zero cases at community level”.

A worker in protective gear helps a man in a wheelchair during the lockdown amid the COVID-19 pandemic in Shanghai, China, May 5, 2022.
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A worker in protective gear helps a man in a wheelchair during the lockdown amid the COVID-19 pandemic in Shanghai, China, May 5, 2022.
(REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo)

The Shanghai government did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Shanghai is reporting thousands of cases a day, the vast majority in closed areas such as central quarantine facilities, premises under “closed loop” management and accommodation where residents are prohibited from leaving their front doors. ‘entrance.

Ending community-level transmission outside these areas has been a watershed moment in cities like Shenzhen, which last month reopened public transport and allowed people to return to work.

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But Shanghai has struggled to end community transmission in the face of the infectious variant of Omicron. Authorities initially aimed to achieve the target by April 20, Reuters reported last month, but succeeded in only two districts.

On Saturday, authorities in Putuo and Changning districts issued notices saying residents of housing compounds classified as the city’s low-risk “prevention” areas could no longer leave their compounds.

A resident of the Pudong New Area district, home to Shanghai’s financial hub, told Reuters he received a similar notice from his resort.

A resident looks through a gap in the fence of a residential area during the lockdown amid the COVID-19 pandemic in Shanghai, China May 6, 2022.

A resident looks through a gap in the fence of a residential area during the lockdown amid the COVID-19 pandemic in Shanghai, China May 6, 2022.
(REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo)

In Xuhui district, which includes the former French Concession area, residents of nine housing complexes told Reuters they were told by their neighborhood committees on Saturday that they would be banned from leaving their gates entry or receive deliveries for at least one week.

“It is about reaching ‘zero cases at the community level’ as soon as possible and allowing the lockdown to be lifted,” said a notice to Xuhui seen by Reuters. He said curbs would be in place until May 15.

A neighborhood committee said on its official WeChat account that for community safety, it should move all occupants of a building and disinfect the area after a resident tested positive.

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A video shared thousands of times on social media showed police in hazmat suits arguing with residents who were told they had to self-quarantine after a neighbor tested positive.

In this photo released by Chinese news agency Xinhua, workers pack boxes of vegetables to be sent to urban quarters at an agricultural facility in Shanghai on April 19, 2022.

In this photo released by Chinese news agency Xinhua, workers pack boxes of vegetables to be sent to urban quarters at an agricultural facility in Shanghai on April 19, 2022.
(Li He/Xinhua via AP)

“It’s so we can completely eliminate all positive cases,” an officer said. “Stop asking me why, there is no why. We must adhere to national guidelines and epidemic control policy.”

Reuters could not independently verify the video.

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Shanghai only achieved citywide “zero-COVID” outside quarantine zones twice, on April 30 and May 1. Since then, daily cases have been in the double digits. City officials said districts with no non-quarantine cases for three consecutive days were considered to have met the goal.

On Saturday, Shanghai reported 11 cases outside quarantine areas in five districts.

Officials have provided little clarity on how they will end up lifting the lockdown, warning the public against complacency.

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