Shanghai begins a two-phase lockdown for omicron expansion

  • The Chinese city, with 26 million inhabitants, has become the epicenter of the pandemic in the Asian giant

  • The population must stay locked up in their homes and can only go out for essential reasons

China has decided to confine the city of Shanghai, with 26 million inhabitants, to stop the expansion of the omicron, the most contagious variant of covid-19. The plan is to divide the city in two and combine the confinement of the population with massive tests. The great financial metropolis of the Asian giant has registered this Sunday more than 2,600 new coronavirus infections in the last 24 hours, which has made it the new epicenter of the most important covid-19 outbreak registered in the country since the declaration of the pandemic, and which has led to the mandatory confinement of millions of people throughout the country during The last weeks.

Over the past month, Shanghai has tried unsuccessfully to curb cases, and while the city’s number of infections remains modest by global standards, the city has become a testing ground for the “zero-covid” strategy from China. Shanghai authorities have resisted a widespread lockdown to avoid destabilizing its economy and have opted for a less aggressive strategy of assessing neighborhoods piecemeal.

According to a statement collected by the ‘Shanghai Daily’, the authorities will begin by confining the Pudong area (east of the Huangpu River) from this Monday, March 28 to April 1, followed by Puxi (west of the river) from 1 to 5th of April. Public transport is suspended residents will not be able to leave their homes except for essential reasons. Companies and factories will temporarily suspend their work and office employees will telecommute during the closure, except those that offer public services or supply food.

“The population is asked that supports, understands and cooperates with the city’s epidemic prevention and control work, and participate in nucleic acid testing in an orderly manner.”

derail the strategy

Although the situation is far from reaching a critical point, the existence of this focus demonstrates the consolidation in the country of the omicron variant of the coronavirusespecially contagious, which threatens to derail the Chinese government’s “zero cases” strategy.

Shanghai thus overtakes the northeastern province of Jilin (2,078 new infections) as the main focus of the pandemic in the Asian country, with an 18% increase in cases since the previous day, according to data from the Municipal Health Commission.

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The city has registered a large uptick in infections in the last month that has forced confinement of residents of dozens of apartment blocks. This same Sunday, health officials had assured that the closure of the city was ruled out given its extraordinary importance for shops and business, but in the end it has not been like that. More than 14 million residents of Shanghai have undergone antigen tests, but some residents have complained about the endless cycles of tests and the excessively high economic cost of the zero-covid strategy.

“Why can’t Shanghai be closed? Because it is a city with a very important role in China’s economy and social development, what has an impact on the global economy“, the head of the team of local experts against the epidemic Wu Fan has declared to the Chinese state newspaper ‘Global Times’. The country has confirmed to date 143,000 cases and some 4,600 deaths.

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