China: Fresh restrictions grip Shanghai as COVID-19 cases rise
The coronavirus is again flaring up in China's financial capital Shanghai as the city on Wednesday recorded the highest number of COVID-19 cases since July, Bloomberg reported. Officials said the city reported 47 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday. Meanwhile, the present coronavirus scenario has already closed schools and other establishments ahead of President Xi Jinping's celebration party and political event.
Why does this story matter?
- Shanghai faced months of strict lockdown since April 5 as part of China's "zero COVID-19 policy."
- The country also witnessed one of its worst outbreaks, triggered in early March by the Omicron variant.
- The current surge in infections in the city has raised fears of another lockdown.
- Although it's small by international standards, the flareup is occurring just days before China's once-in-five-year Party Congress.
Restrictions reimposed; several schools shut in financial capital
The current increase in cases in Shanghai has forced the closure of several educational institutions. According to Bloomberg, many schools have shifted to online classes as the risk of virus spread intensifies. At least five districts have shuttered entertainment facilities like cinemas, clubs, and gyms in an effort to eradicate transmission, as per COVID-19 prevention officials.
China firm on 'Covid Zero' policy; no room for shift
Meanwhile, President Xi is claimed to have made 'Covid Zero' a cornerstone of his administration, despite the rising social and economic costs. Despite widespread condemnation from citizens and human rights organizations, China's media machine has stepped up its defense of the program. The government also stated this week that there will be no shift toward "living with the virus" anytime soon.
Fear gripped 25 mn Shanghai residents after reports of restrictions
After speculations arose on social media that the COVID-19 restrictions and other measures would be implemented shortly, officials initially told residents on Sunday that there would be no citywide school shutdown. However, orders to suspend classes and a tightening of other restrictions, like the closure of districts and individual residential complexes, have put Shanghai's 25 million people on edge.
Extended restrictions to impact economy severely
The COVID-19 Response Expert Team leader at China's National Health Commission, Liang Wannian, said that although the populace and government hoped for a return to normality before 2019, there was currently no set timeline. At a time when development is already hampered by the continuing real estate crisis, further expanding preventive measures would have significant economic repercussions.