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Military sent to help with Shanghai virus outbreak

BEIJING (AP) – China sent over 10,000 health workers from around the country to Shanghai, including 2,000 from the military, as it struggles to stamp out a rapidly spreading outbreak in its largest city under its zero-COVID strategy.

Shanghai conducted a mass testing of its 25 million residents yesterday as what was announced as a two-phase lockdown entered its second week. Most of eastern Shanghai, which was supposed to re-open last Friday, remained locked down along with the western half of the city.

While many factories and financial companies have been allowed to keep operating if they isolate their employees, concern was growing about the potential economic impact of an extended lockdown in China’s financial capital, a major shipping and manufacturing centre.

The highly contagious Omicron BA.2 form of the virus is testing China’s ability to maintain its zero-COVID approach, which aims to stop outbreaks from spreading by isolating everyone who tests positive. Shanghai has converted an exhibition hall and other facilities into massive isolation centres where people with mild or no symptoms are housed.

China yesterday reported over 13,000 new cases nationwide in the previous 24 hours, of which nearly 12,000 were asymptomatic. About 9,000 of the cases were in Shanghai. The other large outbreak is in northeastern China’s Jilin province, where new cases topped 3,500.

The Shanghai lockdown sparked numerous complaints, from food shortages to limited staff and facilities at isolation sites. Some people who tested positive remained at home for extended periods because of a shortage of isolation beds or transportation to take them to a centre, the business news publication Caixin said.

The China Daily newspaper said nearly 15,000 medical workers from neighbouring Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces left for Shanghai yesterday from their hospitals by bus.

Over 2,000 personnel from the army, navy and a joint logistics support force arrived on Sunday, a Chinese military newspaper said.

At least four other provinces have also dispatched doctors, nurses and other medical workers to Shanghai, the state-owned China Daily said.

A worker holds a sign which reads ‘Do not crowd’ during a mass testing day for residents in a lockdown area in the Jingan district of western Shanghai. PHOTO: AP
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