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Shanghai lockdown continues

By Xing Yi in Shanghai | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2022-04-05 07:05
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A resident of Shanghai's Yu Garden subdistrict takes a nucleic acid test on Monday. Shanghai conducted citywide testing that day as part of its efforts to contain the COVID-19 epidemic. JIN LIWANG/XINHUA

Measures to remain until results of mass testing on Monday are verified, analyzed

The phased lockdown triggered by the COVID-19 outbreak in Shanghai will remain for the time being, as authorities are seizing the time to verify and analyze Monday's mass testing results and transfer those infected, the city government said on Monday.

Future epidemic control measures will be rolled out based on those results. But until then, residents are required to stay at home except for activities such as essential hospital visits, the city said in a social media statement.

Shanghai went through a fourth day of phased lockdown on Monday, but amid the unusual quiet of the mandated standstill, its 25 million residents have been more alert than ever as the city battles its toughest COVID-19 outbreak in two years.

Citywide mass testing started and was completed on Monday with the help of more than 38,000 medical workers from across China. About 2,000 of them came from seven medical units affiliated with the Army, Navy and joint logistics support force. Most of the rest were from the neighboring provinces of Zhejiang, Jiangsu and Anhui, and some were from Hubei, Jiangxi, Shandong, Hainan or other provinces.

A mixed sense of intensity, unity and hopefulness has gradually dominated cyberspace in the city since late Sunday, especially on WeChat Moments, where residents shared photos, snapped from their windows, of medical teams arriving in buses, of volunteers getting test sites ready in the early hours and of themselves lining up 2 meters apart to get tested.

Shanghai has reported around 60,000 new infections since this outbreak began in March, and daily tallies of new cases continue to rise, reaching 9,006 on Monday, according to the Shanghai Health Commission.

Most of those infected are asymptomatic, but they have to be quarantined to break the chain of transmission of the highly infectious Omicron subvariant, the dominant strain in this outbreak.

Vice-Premier Sun Chunlan, making an inspection visit to Shanghai since Saturday, called for resolute and swift measures to get the city's outbreak under control as quickly as possible. Sun, who is also a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, emphasized the need for absolute adherence to the dynamic zero-COVID approach and that no efforts should be spared to protect people's lives and the city's operation.

Sun said that Shanghai, an economic center with a dense population, should guarantee it will maintain its core functions. Relevant ministries and departments should coordinate resources to support the epidemic control, she said, adding that every step of the citywide nucleic acid testing should be done in a speedy and orderly manner.

Many volunteers and medical workers stay up all night or get up early to prepare for the daily testing, which begins at 7 am in neighborhoods across the city.

Yang Sijun, a volunteer in the Shouyifang compound, in Xuhui district, began his day at 5 am Monday taking two antigen tests, both negative, before heading for his volunteer work in the community. Yang and other volunteers help keep order and a safe distance between the more than 3,000 people taking nucleic acid tests.

"The two medics I worked with are from Anhui province. They left for Shanghai last night. I heard they spent seven hours on the road," Yang said. "With little rest, they came to help us without complaint."

"We thank them from the bottom of our hearts," he said. "With the help of medics from all over China and the cooperation of local volunteers and residents, I'm confident that Shanghai will win this battle against the virus."

As part of the epidemic control efforts, Shanghai has also designated around 10 hospitals, including makeshift fangcang hospitals, for the treatment of COVID-19 patients.

Within a week's time, Shanghai New International Expo Center, one of the city's largest expo venues, was reconfigured into a fangcang hospital with a capacity of 15,000 beds and started receiving patients on Saturday night. Another fangcang with a 2,700-bed capacity and built at 10th China Flower Expo venue opened on Monday.

On the southern front of China's COVID-19 battle, Shenzhen, Guangdong province, which neighbors Hong Kong, reported zero local COVID-19 cases on Sunday, after lifting a weeklong lockdown on March 21.

Beijing reported 10 new cases on Monday, nine of them confirmed and one asymptomatic.

Meanwhile, health authorities in Jilin province reported 3,578 locally transmitted infections, 2,920 of them in Changchun, the capital.

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