BEIJING ( Associated Press) — Shanghai will try to return to normalcy again within days of eliminating population-wide transmission of COVID-19 as the outbreak subsides in China’s largest city, an official said Friday.
The strict lockdown imposed seven weeks ago in the city, which has been lifted and tightened on a few occasions to the frustration of its residents, is part of the “zero COVID” policy of the ruling Communist Party. These measures have an increasingly high economic cost and even the World Health Organization says that it may be unsustainable.
The goal in Shanghai is to achieve “elimination (of the virus) in society,” meaning that new positives would occur among people already in isolation, the city’s deputy mayor, Wu Qing, told a news conference. This would allow an “orderly opening, a limited (population) flow and differentiated management,” he added.
No exact date has been given beyond the middle of the month, and Wu also did not say how the reopening would take place other than to note that the city intends to gradually restore industrial production, education and medical services.
Shanghai authorities have made similar claims in the past, but have reimposed restrictions even as cases in the city of 25 million people fell.
Complaints about lack of food and other difficulties, and videos posted online showing residents in the metropolis and elsewhere arguing with police have been removed by censors.
In Beijing, which has a much smaller outbreak, more daily tests have been ordered, classes have been suspended and those who can work from home have been decreed. Additionally, restaurants can only serve takeout and many shops, tourist spots, banks, and government offices are closed.
Some residential communities are isolated and the population has been warned to avoid moving between the different districts of the capital.
Shanghai reported 2,096 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, of which only 227 showed symptoms. Beijing, for its part, confirmed 50 infections, in line with the data of recent days.