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Shanghai begins phased lockdown as COVID surges in China's largest city

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Photo by STR/AFP via Getty Images

Shanghai has begun a phased COVID-19 lockdown, as China’s largest financial hub grapples with a massive surge in cases of the Omicron variant. China is currently seeing case numbers that it hasn’t experienced since the early days of the pandemic.

Parts of Shanghai on the eastern side of the Huangpu River — which divides the city roughly down the center — will be under lockdown between Monday and Friday, according to local officials.

Western parts of Shanghai will undergo a similar lockdown protocol starting on April 1.

The Guardian reported that Shanghai officials are also implementing massive testing protocols.

Shanghai, China’s largest city, consisting of 25 million people, has recently become the hot spot for a nationwide outbreak of COVID that began in early March.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, earlier this month, urged officials in the Chinese Communist Party to “minimize the impact” of the virus on the Chinese economy as authorities work to uphold the country’s extremely aggressive “zero-COVID policy.”

On Monday, the Chinese stock exchange opened lower than expected, with the country’s benchmark CSI 300 index — analogous to the DOW Jones Industrial Average — falling as much as 2% during morning trading hours.

The government ruled out shutting down Shanghai entirely on Saturday, citing the potential damage it could cause the Chinese economy, and opted instead to implement the phased east-west lockdown approach.

On Sunday, a record 3,450 asymptomatic cases were reported in Shanghai, which accounted for nearly 70% of the nationwide total. Shanghai city officials announced 50 symptomatic cases on Monday.

The Chinese National Health Commission announced on Monday that there were 5,134 new asymptomatic cases nationally, with 1,219 new infections confirmed to be from Shanghai.

Currently, in the eastern parts of Shanghai, residents are confined to their homes. The city directed health care workers to visit each residence and conduct rapid COVID tests, with some workers arriving as early as 7 a.m. Monday morning.

In a Sunday public notice, the Shanghai government said that the two-part lockdown was being implemented “to curb the spread of the epidemic, ensure the safety and health of the people” and root out cases of infection “as soon as possible.”

The city’s eastern half will be under lockdown until April 1, at which point its western half will undergo lockdown until April 5.

Residents are being compelled to stay indoors during these lockdowns, and all businesses, employees, and government personnel who are not involved in the supply of essential services are required to work from home.

Individuals who are responsible for providing vital services such as gas, electricity, transport, sanitation, and food delivery do not have to adhere to the stay-at-home order.

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