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Monday, June 27, 2022
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    Shanghai eases lockdown as spread mostly ends

    BEIJING (AP) – Most of Shanghai has stopped the spread of the coronavirus in the community and fewer than one million people remain under strict lockdown, authorities said yesterday, as the city moves toward re-opening and economic data showed the gloomy impact of China’s “zero-COVID” policy.

    Vice Mayor Zong Ming said 15 out of Shanghai’s 16 districts had eliminated virus transmission among those not already in quarantine.

    “The epidemic in our city is under effective control. Prevention measures have achieved incremental success,” Zong said at a news briefing. Supermarkets, malls and restaurants were allowed to re-open yesterday with limits on the numbers of people and mandated “no contact” transactions. But most of the city’s 25 million people remain under some form of restriction, movement around the city is highly limited and the subway train system remains closed for now.

    Even as case numbers fall, city and national authorities have sent mixed messages about the state of Shanghai’s outbreak and when life can return to normal in the city, where many residents have been confined to their homes, compounds and neighbourhoods for more than 50 days.

    A prospective date of June 1 has been given for a full re-opening. Zong said that authorities “remain sober” about the possibility of the outbreak rebounding, particularly as reports of new infections continue to come in from centralised isolation centres and older, rundown neighbourhoods.

    A resident walks by a worker in protective suit standing watch at a barricaded entrance to the shuttered business shops in Beijing. PHOTO: AP

    “Citywide, our prevention efforts are still not firmly enough established and it requires all of our continuing hard work and the cooperation of the broad masses of citizens and friends … to restore the normal running of the city in an orderly fashion,” Zong said.

    Shanghai’s ruthless and frequently chaotic implementation of virus restrictions has sparked protests over the lack of food, medical care, freedom of movement and already highly limited privacy rights.

    Despite that, China has rejected all criticism of “zero COVID”, including from the World Health Organization. The ruling Communist Party said it is committed to “resolutely fighting any attempts to distort, question or dismiss China’s anti-COVID policy”.

    China reported 1,159 cases of infection yesterday, the vast majority in Shanghai. Almost all were infections without symptoms.

    In Beijing, where a much smaller outbreak has led to mass testing and a lockdown imposed building by building, 54 cases were reported. Authorities have ordered people to work from home, moved schools online and limited restaurants to take-out only in the capital.

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