Shanghai allows 4 million people out of homes as virus rules ease

A health official says 4 million more people in Shanghai have been allowed to leave their homes as coronavirus quarantine rules ease

BEIJING — Shanghai allowed 4 million more people out of their homes on Wednesday as virus controls that shut down China’s biggest city eased, while the International Monetary Fund cut its forecast for China’s economic growth and warned that the global flow of industrial goods could be disrupted.

According to the latest changes, more than 4 million people are included in areas where the status has changed from closed to controlled, Wu said. He said some are not allowed to leave their neighborhoods and large gatherings are banned. .

Meanwhile, the IMF cut its forecast for China’s growth this year to 4.4% from 4.8% due to shutdowns in Shanghai and other industrial hubs. That’s nearly half of last year’s 8.1% growth and below the ruling Communist Party’s 5.5% target.

China’s case count during its last surge of infections is relatively low, but the ruling party is enforcing a “zero-COVID” strategy that shut down major cities to isolate each case.

On Wednesday, the government reported 19,927 new cases in mainland China, of which all but 2,761 had no symptoms. Shanghai accounted for 95% of the total, or 18,902 cases, of which 2,495 had symptoms.

Shanghai closed businesses and confined most of its population to their homes from March 28 after a spike in infections. This has led to complaints about lack of access to food and medicine supplies. People in Shanghai who test positive but show no symptoms have been placed in quarantine centers set up in exhibition halls and other public buildings.

Official data this week showed that economic growth in the first three months of this year declined compared to the last quarter of 2021.

Lockdowns in China will “likely worsen supply disruptions elsewhere” and could add pressure for inflation to rise, the IMF said in a report.

The ruling party has promised tax refunds and other business aid, but is avoiding large-scale stimulus spending. Economists say the strategy will take longer to produce results and Beijing may need to spend more or cut interest rates.

Chinese leaders have vowed to try to reduce the human and economic cost of disease controls by moving to a “dynamic cleaning” strategy that isolates neighborhoods and other smaller areas instead of entire cities. However, many areas appear to be applying tougher controls after Shanghai officials were criticized for not acting aggressively enough.

Also on Wednesday, the agriculture ministry ordered local authorities to avoid any measures that could interfere with spring planting by farmers who feed China’s 1.4 billion people. The order followed warnings that production of wheat and other crops could be disrupted, boosting demand for imports and pushing up already high world prices.

The government reported that 26,760 people who tested positive but had no symptoms were released from observation on Wednesday. This included 25,411 in Shanghai, where some residents of quarantine centers complained of unsanitary conditions.

Other industrial and commercial hubs, including Changchun, Jilin and Shenyang in the northeast, the port of Tianjin east of Beijing and Shenzhen and Guangzhou in the south, have closed businesses, imposed travel restrictions or said residents to stay at home.

Global automakers and other manufacturers scaled back or stopped production because suppliers couldn’t deliver.

This week, Volkswagen AG announced that its Changchun plant had resumed production and that the automaker was considering when to reopen its Shanghai plant. BMW AG has announced the reopening of its Shenyang plant.

As some cities eased controls, the government of Harbin, a city of 5.3 million people in the northeast, on Wednesday suspended bus and subway service and banned the public from traveling between neighborhoods.

ABC News

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