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Shanghai reports zero COVID cases for first time in months

BEIJING (AFP) – China reported zero new COVID-19 infections in Shanghai for the first time since March yesterday, as the country’s latest outbreak subsides after months of lockdowns and other restrictions.

China is the last major economy committed to a zero-COVID strategy, stamping out all infections with a combination of targetted lockdowns, mass testing and long quarantine periods. The economic hub of Shanghai was forced into a months-long lockdown during a COVID surge this spring driven by the fast-spreading Omicron variant, while the capital Beijing shuttered schools and offices for weeks over a separate outbreak.

But infections have slowed to a trickle in recent days, with Shanghai yesterday reporting zero locally transmitted cases for the first time since before the outbreak in early March.

“There were no new domestic confirmed cases and no new domestic asymptomatic infections in Shanghai,” the city said in a statement.

The lockdown on Shanghai’s 25 million residents was mostly lifted in early June, but the metropolis has struggled to return to normal as individual neighbourhoods have reimposed restrictions over new infections. Millions of people in the city were temporarily locked down again two weeks ago after the government ordered a fresh mass testing campaign.

File photo shows a person sleeping at the boarding gate of the Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport in Shanghai. PHOTO: AFP

In Beijing, restrictions imposed in May were later eased as cases declined, but tightened again this month after a nightlife-linked infection cluster emerged.

After days of mass testing and localised lockdowns, the ‘Heaven Supermarket infection chain’ – named after a popular place visited by the patients – has now been effectively blocked, Beijing authorities said last week.

The city’s education bureau said yesterday that all elementary and middle school students could return to their classrooms for in-person schooling tomorrow.

Beijing reported only two new local infections yesterday.

However, China’s southern manufacturing powerhouse of Shenzhen said yesterday it would close wholesale markets, cinemas and gyms in a central district bordering Hong Kong for three days after COVID cases were discovered there.