Shanghai COVID cases bounce back as strict lockdown persists

April 23, 2022, 9:42 PM UTC

Shanghai reported higher Covid-19 cases and deaths on Friday, following five straight daily declines, as the city vows to step up lockdown enforcement to stamp out community spread in China’s worst virus outbreak.

There were 23,370 new local infections reported in the financial hub Friday, compared with 17,629 cases the day before, the Shanghai Health Commission said Saturday morning.

The city is entering its fourth week of strict lockdown since April 1, while people living in the eastern part or neighborhoods with earlier reported cases have been confined to their apartments for even longer. Frustration among residents has been building due to lack of access to food or medical caremoldy government rations, and the location of quarantine centers

The Covid outbreak had significant impact on the local economy in March, when part of the city started to put in place restrictions on personnel mobility and production. Shanghai’s retail sales slumped 18.9% in March from a year ago, reversing the 3.7% growth in the first two months of the year, as some malls and restaurants suspended operations even before the city’s full lockdown. Meanwhile, industrial output fell 7.5% in the month, according to a statement by the Shanghai statistics bureau.

The city reported 12 deaths Friday, one more than the previous day, bringing total fatalities from the current outbreak to 48. At an average age of 88.2 years old, the people who died Friday all had underlying diseases, according to the report.

Disappointing some expectations that restrictions would be eased gradually, the municipal government on Friday said it would adopt nine actions to achieve the goal of “no community spread,” a milestone that’s eluded the city despite weeks of lockdown. 

“We are not ready to loosen the Covid zero policy” as the vaccination rate among the elderly and children remains low, said Liang Wannian, one of China’s top epidemiologists, in an interview on state TV. “We’ll stick to the policy to maximize our protection of people’s lives and the social and economic development.”

The pledge largely reiterated existing measures in place, with a vow to strictly implement rules like making sure people don’t leave their homes in restricted areas.

Meanwhile, Beijing’s municipal government said late Friday that 14 people had tested positive for Covid-19. The Chinese capital ordered a school shut as officials race to stop the virus spreading, calling the situation “urgent and serious.” 

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