Shanghai has set a goal of stopping the spread of COVID-19 outside quarantine zones by Wednesday, two people familiar with the matter said, which would allow China’s largest city to further ease restrictions. lockdown restrictions and start getting back to normal life.
The goal will require officials to speed up COVID testing and the transfer of positive cases to quarantine centers, according to a speech by a local Communist Party official dated Saturday, a copy of which was seen by Reuters.
Shanghai has become the epicenter of China’s biggest outbreak since the virus was first identified in Wuhan in late 2019, and has recorded more than 320,000 COVID infections since early March when its outbreak began.
Locked-in Shanghai residents have expressed frustration over food supply difficulties, loss of income, separated families and poor conditions in central quarantine centers. Shut down factories and transportation bottlenecks in many parts of China due to COVID-19 restrictions are rippling through global supply chains.
Shanghai’s new goal of “zero COVID at the community level” by April 20 was communicated in recent days to Communist Party cadres in the city and organizations such as schools, the sources said, who declined to comment. be named because the information was not public.
China’s definition of zero-COVID status at the community level means that no new cases emerge outside quarantine zones.
A speech dated Saturday from the city’s Baoshan District Party Secretary described it as an order that came as the city’s situation reached a ‘critical moment’ with growing public anxiety and supply pressures. eating.
“The State Council working group, the municipal party committee and the municipal government have requested that the epidemic turning point be reached on the 17th and the COVID zero status be reached on the 20th,” Chen Jie said in his statement. speech.
The Shanghai government and China’s State Council did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The Baoshan district government could not be reached by phone outside of working hours on Sunday.
“This is a military order, there is no room for negotiation, we can only grit our teeth and fight for victory. We can also say that this is an all-out attack, a last-ditch battle to reverse the trend of the epidemic,” the speech read.
The end of community-level transmission was a turning point for other Chinese cities that have implemented lockdowns.
Authorities in the southern city of Shenzhen, which shut down for a week in mid-March, said it was granted the status after the number of local cases outside quarantine zones fell to zero. Shenzhen reopened public transport and allowed businesses to resume work soon after.
Of 23,643 new local infections reported in Shanghai on Saturday, 722 were new cases discovered outside quarantine zones.
China’s “dynamic clearance” approach to COVID control requires authorities to centrally quarantine all cases and isolate their close contacts.
Beijing authorities intervened in Shanghai in early April after the financial hub failed to isolate COVID-19 by locking down the city in stages. Chinese President Xi Jinping has insisted that China must not ease coronavirus measures and must stick to an elimination approach.
Shanghai began locking down areas east of the Huangpu River on March 28 and extended the citywide lockdown on April 1. Although he eased movement restrictions for some residents last week, most businesses remain closed and public transport is suspended.
On Friday, China’s industry regulator said it had identified 666 companies in Shanghai in the semiconductor, automotive and medical sectors as priority companies to resume work.
(Edited by : Anand Singha)