China’s financial hub of Shanghai witnessed an exponential surge in Covid-19 cases with over 3,500 new infections on Sunday. The threat in the region mounted as most of these cases turned out to be asymptomatic — meaning, people who tested positive for the coronavirus were not showing symptoms of Covid-19.
According to reports, a record 3,450 asymptomatic Covid cases were reported in Shanghai on Sunday, accounting for nearly 70 per cent of the nationwide total.
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There were as many as 50 symptomatic cases, the city government was quoted as saying on Monday.
Meanwhile, China has reported more than 56,000 confirmed cases nationwide this month, with the surge in Jilin accounting for most of them.
The city government in Shanghai has decided to lock down the region in a phased manner for testing beginning Monday morning and ending April 1.
Shanghai’s latest citywide Covid-19 testing is aimed at completely eliminating potential hidden risks and clearing all cases as soon as possible, said Wu Fan, a local epidemic expert, at a news conference on Monday.
People line up near a nucleic acid testing site outside a hospital during mass testing for Covid-19) in Shanghai. (Image: Reuters)
To “curb the virus spread, protect people’s life and health, and achieve the dynamic zero-Covid target as soon as possible,” Shanghai launched a planned two-stage lockdown of the city of 26 million people on Monday.
It is believed to be the biggest Covid-related disruption to hit the city so far, news agency Reuters reported.
Shanghai’s Pudong financial district and nearby areas will be locked down from Monday to Friday as citywide mass testing begins, the local government said.
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In the second phase of the lockdown, the vast downtown area west of the Huangpu River that divides the city will then start its own five-day lockdown on Friday.
As per the new norms, bridges and tunnels will remain closed, while there will be restrictions on highway traffic.
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In a statement, the bureau said traffic controls would be implemented on highways into and out of the city, requiring people leaving Shanghai to show proof of negative results from nucleic acid tests taken within 48 hours.
The city government also said that it would suspend public transport, including ride-hailing services, in locked down areas.
It also ordered the suspension of work at firms and factories, with the exception of those offering public services or supplying food.
Also, offices and all businesses not considered essential will be closed and public transport suspended.
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Moreover, residents will be required to stay home and deliveries will be left at checkpoints.
Shanghai’s Disneyland theme park is among the businesses that closed earlier. Automaker Tesla is also suspending production at its Shanghai plant, according to media reports.
Panic buying was reported on Sunday, with supermarket shelves cleared of food, beverages and household items. Additional barriers were being erected in neighborhoods Monday, with workers in hazmat suits staffing checkpoints.
(With inputs from AP, Reuters)