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Coronavirus crisis: COVID failure for Shanghai if Beijing holds on


The commercial capital of China, Shanghai, was hit as authorities reported 58 new COVID-19 cases outside quarantine zones, while Beijing continued to test millions of its people on May Day holidays that few celebrated.

Tough measures against the coronavirus in Shanghai have sparked rare public outrage: many of the city’s 25 million residents have been locked up indoors for more than a month, some fenced off with apartment complexes, and many struggling to provide needed supplies.

Shanghai residents sighed with relief over the weekend when no case outside the quarantine zone was confirmed for two days, but bad news came in Monday with reports of 58 new infections.

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

“They announced that it was too early to eliminate cases at the community level,” commented one person on the social networking platform Weibo.

Camera iconShanghai has begun blocking apartment buildings and streets as the number of COVID cases continues to rise. Credit: EPA

But many people also embraced the data, which showed an encouraging trend: on Sunday there were 32 new deaths compared to 38 the day before and 6,606 new asymptomatic cases from 7,084 the day before.

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

The coronavirus first appeared in the Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019, and for two years authorities managed to keep the outbreaks largely under control by blocking and banning travel.

But a fast-spreading version of Omicron has tested China’s “zero COVID” policy this year, which is important for President Xi Jinping, who is expected to receive a precedent for a third term.

China’s policy on COVID-19 looks increasingly strange to much of the outside world.

Many governments have eased restrictions or lifted them altogether, seeking to “live with COVID,” even when infections are spreading.

China is not hinting at a departure from its policies, despite growing damage to the world’s second-largest economy and a wave of disruptions spreading through global supply chains.

The COVID blockade in China has hit consumer confidence.
Camera iconCOVID’s blockade in Shanghai and other cities has hit China’s production and consumer confidence. Credit: EPA

In the capital, home to 22 million people, authorities have tightened COVID restrictions on a five-day Labor Day holiday that lasts until Wednesday, traditionally one of the busiest tourist seasons.

Beijing, where dozens of daily outbreak infections are now approaching two weeks, has not closed, instead relying on mass testing to detect and isolate infections.

Beijing’s restaurants are closed for meals, and some apartment buildings are closed.

The streets are quiet, and residents who take to the streets must show negative virus tests to enter most public places.

Authorities are monitoring close contacts with confirmed cases, warning them to stay home and contacting the authorities, and urging everyone to follow the blocking rules.

China reported 7,822 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday compared to 8,329 the day before, the National Health Commission said Monday.

All 32 new deaths in China were in Shanghai, bringing the total official death toll in the country since the virus appeared to be 5,092.

India, the only country with a population comparable to China’s 1.4 billion people, has officially recorded more than half a million deaths, although some health experts believe their numbers are even higher.


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