Shanghai reports zero Covid cases for first time since outbreak – Manila Bulletin

BEIJING, China — China reported no new Covid-19 infections in Shanghai for the first time since March on Saturday, as the country’s latest outbreak eases after months of virus-driven lockdowns and restrictions.

China is the last major economy still committed to a zero Covid strategy, eliminating new cases with a combination of targeted lockdowns, mass testing and lengthy quarantines.

The economic hub of Shanghai was forced into a months-long lockdown during a Covid surge this spring driven by the fast-spreading variant of Omicron, while the capital Beijing closed schools and offices for weeks during of a separate epidemic.

Infections have dwindled to a trickle in recent days, with Shanghai reporting zero locally transmitted cases on Saturday for the first time since the outbreak began in early March.

“There were no new confirmed domestic cases of Covid-19 and no new asymptomatic domestic infections in Shanghai on June 24, 2022,” the city said in a statement.

The lockdown for Shanghai’s 25 million people was all but lifted in early June, but the metropolis has struggled to return to normal as individual neighborhoods reimposed restrictions in response to new infections.

Millions of people in the city were temporarily locked down again two weeks ago after the government ordered a new campaign of mass testing.

In Beijing, restrictions first imposed in May were eased as cases fell, but tightened again this month after a cluster of infections linked to nightlife emerged.

After days of mass testing and localized lockdowns, the ‘Heaven Supermarket infection chain’ – named after the popular bar visited by patients – has effectively been brought to a standstill, authorities in Beijing said last week.

The city’s education office said Saturday that all elementary and middle school students could return to their classrooms for in-person instruction on Monday, after the bar group delayed the reopening of schools.

All school staff, students and parents must take a Covid PCR test before returning to school, and are urged to “limit outings and avoid gatherings”, the office said. education in an official social media post.

Beijing reported two new local infections on Saturday.

China insists the zero-Covid policy is necessary to prevent a health calamity, with officials pointing to unevenly distributed medical resources and low vaccination rates among the elderly as major concerns.

But the strategy has hammered the world’s second-largest economy, and tough enforcement has also sparked rare protests, while the extreme isolation of foreign businesses and middle-class families has pushed them to make exit plans.

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