China’s Shanghai denies lockdown rumors as it hits nearly 1,000 daily COVID infections

COVID-19 pandemic in Shanghai
A man climbing a tree looks over barriers built to separate buildings from a street amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in Shanghai, China March 22, 2022. REUTERS/Aly song

March 23, 2022

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Authorities in the Chinese city of Shanghai have dismissed rumors of a city-wide lockdown after a sixth consecutive spike in daily asymptomatic coronavirus cases surpassed the tally despite a campaign of mass testing aimed at suppressing the spread reached a record level.

The latest outbreak in China’s wealthy trading hub remains tiny by global standards.

But its testing campaign, with many people confined in residential areas for days, follows Beijing’s national “dynamic clearance” policy to stamp out flare-ups as quickly as possible.

Daily new local COVID-19 infections in Shanghai approached 1,000 on Tuesday, but authorities vowed to stick to a “slicing and gridding” approach to screen neighborhoods individually rather than shutting them down entirely.

The lockdown rumors sparked panic buying late Tuesday night, with slots on Alibaba’s Freshhippo delivery app running out a minute after midnight.

“Please don’t believe or spread rumors,” the city government said on its Weibo microblog site.

City health official Wu Jinglei said several roads and residential areas were unsealed after the tests, but some areas face another round Wednesday and Thursday as the focus of his efforts is narrowed.

The city uses two stadiums as quarantine facilities for mild cases and asymptomatic carriers, Wu added at Wednesday’s press briefing.

A handful of subway stations also shut down Wednesday, the firm that manages the transit system said, citing COVID-19 controls.

The municipality reported 977 domestically transmitted asymptomatic infections for Tuesday, National Health Commission (NHC) data showed, up from 865 a day earlier.

It also reported four local cases with confirmed symptoms, which China counts separately, down from 31 the day before.


While some connections across the city were unsealed, others were closed for several days in an attempt to eliminate transmission chains. Some residents said they were going into lockdown for two weeks after a neighbor tested positive.

A resident who posted on Weibo under the username “Zhang Fan’s Viewpoint” said authorities might as well lockdown the city and end the insecurity caused by 48-hour test lockdowns, which are often extended.

“This endless loop of 48 hours plus 48 hours plus 48 hours is more likely to cause normal people to lose control of their emotions, and it would be better to notify six days, eight days or even 14 days directly,” the resident said.

“In these circumstances, a one-off payment is better than paying in installments.”

Mainland China on Tuesday reported 2,591 locally transmitted cases with confirmed symptoms, up from 2,281 a day earlier, NHC data showed. The number of new local asymptomatic cases was 2,346 compared to 2,313 the day before.

Leading steel city Tangshan said late Tuesday that residents who are not essential workers must stay at home unless there is an emergency or they need to be tested. The city government did not specify when the citywide lockdown would be lifted.

The northeastern city of Shenyang also announced that its 9 million residents would have to undergo another three rounds of testing from Thursday to March 30 after the three rounds were already completed.

As of March 22, mainland China had reported 137,231 cases with confirmed symptoms, including both local ones and those arriving from outside the mainland. There were no new fatalities, leaving the death toll at 4,638.

The coronavirus was first detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019.

(Reporting by David Stanway, Roxanne Liu, Stella Qiu, Yifan Wang, Brenda Goh and the Shanghai Newsroom; Editing by Michael Perry, Robert Birsel) China’s Shanghai denies lockdown rumors as it hits nearly 1,000 daily COVID infections

Bobby Allyn

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