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Shanghai shuts down schools again

THE STAR – Shanghai will shut most schools again from tomorrow, reverting to an element of China’s old virus playbook as the rapid dismantling of the country’s pandemic restrictions spurs a rise in cases.

Students in all classes except for those in middle and high school who will graduate next summer must study at home from next week, the education authority of China’s largest city said in a WeChat post yesterday. Kindergartens will also be closed, according to the announcement.

The order was a rare act of caution from officials who have spent recent weeks rolling back almost all of the curbs that kept Covid at bay over the past three years.

Infections have surged in Beijing, where the virus is now rampant, and appears to be ticking higher in Shanghai, where residents have gone from knowing few people who’ve had the virus, to whole families being infected.

The country is on track to experience three infection waves from now through mid-March, according to chief epidemiologist at China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention Wu Zunyou. In remarks reported by the Beijing Youth Daily, Wu said 10 per cent to 30 per cent of China’s population is likely to be infected.

Residents line up for the COVID test at a booth in Shanghai. PHOTO: AP

The first wave will mainly hit cities, Wu said.

The upcoming Lunar New Year break – often dubbed the world’s biggest temporary migration as workers head home for the holiday – could then fuel the spread, Wu is quoted as saying, with the third wave to start in late February, when people return to factories and other workplaces across the country.

The scale of the current outbreak is already becoming difficult to quantify, with China dismantling its PCR testing apparatus and no longer counting asymptomatic cases, which typically took up the bulk of the tally.

The fast-moving outbreak turned the Chinese capital, home to some 22 million people, into a virtual ghost town as people stay home sick or to avoid being infected.


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