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Shanghai becomes China’s biggest COVID hotspot

THE STRAITS TIMES – Shanghai became China’s biggest virus hot spot after reporting another record increase in daily COVID-19 infections.

The financial hub overtook the north-eastern province of Jilin, which reported 2,078 cases for Saturday.

Shanghai has 2,676 new infections, a jump of 18 per cent from a day earlier, according to data from the municipal health commission.

COVID-19 cases in Shanghai kept hitting records in the past week, though a vast majority are asymptomatic.

Shanghai has seen infections grow rapidly in the past month, with scores of buildings and apartment blocks locked down and residents confined at home.

Health workers at a street in Jing’an district in Shanghai. PHOTO: AFP

While the financial hub’s officials have ruled out fully isolating the city, parts of it will be sealed off and further tested. Officials on Saturday launched a new round of city-wide screening using both nucleic acid and antigen testing.

The health authorities started using differentiated screening tactics in all the sub-districts and townships according to their risk levels to find all infections and stop the transmission in communities, said director of the Shanghai municipal health commission Dr Wu Jinglei.

The more sensitive nucleic acid screening applies to key areas in the outbreak, totalling 23 sub-districts, while antigen testing applies to non-key areas, Dr Wu told a press conference on Saturday.

The local authorities are imposing closed management over the key areas where people are banned from going out before the results of their nucleic acid testing come out.

The authorities have renovated seven venues, including hospitals and stadiums, to quarantine mild cases and asymptomatic carriers, according to Dr Wu.

He also ordered hospitals to take scientific and targetted control measures to reduce the impact on the availability of medical services to other sick people.

China reported 5,550 local COVID-19 cases for Saturday.