After a new surge of asymptomatic cases, Shanghai's lockdown tightens
After a new surge of asymptomatic cases, Shanghai's lockdown tightens

Shanghai, China’s financial capital, tightened transportation restrictions on Tuesday, following a day of extensive city-wide testing that saw the number of new cases rise to almost 13,000, with no end in sight to the lockdown.

Shanghai ordered a two-stage shutdown last week as authorities attempted to contain what had become the city’s largest ever COVID-19 epidemic, after initially taking a piecemeal strategy aimed at minimising economic losses.

The lockdown in the city’s western areas was supposed to end on Tuesday, but it has been prolonged until further notice.

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After a city-wide surveillance testing exercise that saw more than 25 million people swabbed in 24 hours, Shanghai recorded a record 13,086 new asymptomatic coronavirus infections on April 4, the city government said on Tuesday on its official WeChat channel, up from 8,581 the previous day.

On Monday, there were 268 symptomatic cases, down from 425 the day before. Experts credit the city’s proactive screening approach for the city’s low proportion of official symptomatic infections, which is significantly lower than the rest of the globe.

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At least 38,000 workers from various provinces have been dispatched to Shanghai in what state media has dubbed the “largest statewide medical operation” since Wuhan’s closure in early 2020.

Authorities stated late Monday that the city’s transportation networks will be subjected to additional limitations beginning Tuesday, with more subway lines being shut.

During a review of testing locations in Shanghai on Monday, Sun Chunlan, China’s vice-premier in charge of the COVID-19 response, said that prevention and control activities had reached a “critical moment” and that every citizen needed to be tested.

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As citizens continued to vent their dissatisfaction with Shanghai’s harsh policies by posting videos on social media, Sun asked grassroots Party organisations to “do all necessary” to assist residents in resolving their issues.

Analysts from outside China have raised concerns about the country’s unrelenting anti-infection campaign’s financial consequences.

“What is most remarkable in Shanghai is the difficulties with which the authorities are managing logistics, notably circumstances in centralised quarantine facilities,” said Michael Hirson, a China specialist with the Eurasia Group consultancy.

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“Given Shanghai’s capable government, current challenges serve as a cautionary tale for local governments across China, where capacity is limited and significant epidemics could push resources to their limits,” he warned.

In China, 1,235 confirmed coronavirus cases were recorded for April 4, down from 1,405 the day before, with 1,173 local transmissions. A total of 15,355 new asymptomatic cases were reported yesterday, up from 11,862 the day before.