China: COVID-19 cases surging in Shanghai unabated despite strict lockdown
Is Shanghai emerging as China's new COVID-19 epicenter two years after the Wuhan outbreak? Well, the present coronavirus scenario in the country's financial capital does suggest so. According to government estimates, Shanghai reported over 23,500 new cases on Saturday as the virus outbreak continues to disrupt daily life and business operations in the region amid a strict lockdown. Here's more.
- Shanghai has been under a strict lockdown since April 5 as part of China's "zero COVID-19 policy."
- The country is witnessing one of its worst outbreaks, triggered in early March by the Omicron variant.
- The massive surge in infections in China apart from other Southeast Asian countries has raised fears of a fourth wave of the pandemic in India as well.
Shanghai recorded as many as 3,590 symptomatic cases on Saturday, the highest so far. Meanwhile, the city also witnessed 19,923 asymptomatic cases the same day. This marked a slight increase from Friday's number of 19,872 asymptomatic infections. Shanghai currently accounts for the majority of China's COVID-19 cases even as most residents of the city continue to be under lockdown.
The Shanghai administration has already faced harsh criticism for its stringent lockdown over social media. Previously, residents also raised serious concerns over shortages of food and necessities in the city. However, this issue has been reportedly addressed to some extent. Meanwhile, residents in a Shanghai area protested the opening of quarantine facilities in their locality, accusing the Chinese government of mishandling the COVID-19 situation.
According to official data, the majority of Shanghai's COVID-19 cases have been asymptomatic. But China's "dynamic clearance" approach needs authorities to test, trace, and centrally quarantine all positive cases. The financial capital's lockdown had severely affected daily life and businesses, while healthcare workers and volunteers work to test the entire population and supply residents with groceries.
Meanwhile, more cities in China have limited people's movement in order to contain the highly transmissible Omicron strain. The city of Xian in northwestern China advised residents to stay indoors and asked companies to allow employees to work from home. Similarly, employees in Suzhou city were also urged to work from home, while citizens and traders were encouraged to cut down on unnecessary travel.
The present restrictions in the country have impacted the supply chains of major corporations, including Apple. Such disruption is believed to also have an impact on the country's economic growth rate this year, as per Reuters. Notably, China's central bank reduced the amount of cash that banks must maintain as reserves on Friday, hoping to soften the impact of a steep slowdown in growth.
On Saturday, China's National Health Commission stated the country recorded 24,791 new coronavirus cases on Friday, including 3,896 symptomatic and 20,895 asymptomatic infections. To note, China witnessed 24,268 new cases a day earlier, with 3,486 symptomatic and 20,782 asymptomatic cases.