Covid cases spike in China’s Shanghai, quiet city shuts down districts: Report

Covid cases in Shanghai jumped to a three-month high and the stealth rollout of restrictions has spread to other major cities across the country as officials try to contain the virus just days before one of China’s key political events.

The financial center reported 47 new infections on Wednesday, the most since July 13, when a brief rise in cases revived fears of another general lockdown. Of the latter cases, all but two were found in quarantine. Beijing registered 18 cases. There were 1,406 new local cases nationwide, up from 1,709 the day before.

Though small by international standards, the flare-up comes just days before China’s five-year party congress, when President Xi Jinping is expected to secure a precedent-breaking third term in power. So far, China’s major cities have avoided large-scale closures, with officials quietly halting a growing list of activities instead.

According to parents and social media posts, several schools in Shanghai have suspended face-to-face classes as fears of spreading infection mount. The port city of Tianjin has closed one district and the southern megacity of Guangzhou has closed schools in one area. Zhengzhou, an iPhone manufacturing center, has quietly shut down at least two districts. The steel city of Anshan told all its residents to stay at home.

China is strengthening its commitment to Covid Zero, which Xi has made a cornerstone of his leadership and likely to speak out at the party congress, despite the heavy social and economic toll. The country’s propaganda machine has stepped up its defense of the controversial policy this week, with one of its top virus officials joining the chorus on Thursday, in a sign that there will be no shift to living with the virus anytime soon.

Shanghai’s flare-up has left many of the city’s 25 million on edge as creeping restrictions raise concerns about wider lockdown. In addition to ad-hoc school closures, at least five districts have closed entertainment venues, including movie theaters, bars and gyms, in an effort to stamp out transmission, according to statements from Covid prevention agencies.

Authorities in the financial center said on Sunday there will be no school closure across the city after social media speculated that the measure would be rolled out. Some neighborhoods are on lockdown, while in others individual buildings have been barricaded with the green fences that marked the prolonged closure earlier this year.

So far, lockdown nerves and the risk of getting caught up in China’s policy of isolating both Covid cases and close contacts have seen only a small drop in the number of subways. Daily rides have fallen from their pre-Golden Week levels but are roughly in line with August’s rider count, according to data collected by Bloomberg.

In Tianjin, which reported only one infection on Wednesday, the Nankai district has been closed, people cannot leave their housing complexes and non-essential businesses have been closed. Guangzhou’s Huadu area closed nightlife and schools, and residents are undergoing massive tests. The city has posted 13 new cases.

In Henan province, large areas of two Zhengzhou districts appear to be on lockdown, according to social media posts and residents notified by neighborhood committees. It surprised many people after authorities said on Tuesday there would be no citywide lockdown.

The city reported 18 new cases on Wednesday. The Covid task force line for Zhengzhou city, as well as Gaoxin and Zhongyuan districts, was busy and calls from Bloomberg News went unanswered.

Residents complained about the stealth shutdown via social media. They echo feelings from Shanghai residents, who have complained about the endless cycle of closures and reopenings that is a hallmark of Covid Zero, and speculated whether they were just months after a two-month ordeal in which many struggled to access a new one. closure, would be confronted with a new closure. and medical care.

Elsewhere, about two dozen police officers patrolled a busy intersection in Beijing after photos and videos circulated of a rare protest against Xi and the Covid Zero policy. A banner rolled out on a bridge in the capital said: “We want food, not PCR tests. We want freedom, not lockdowns and controls,” along with other slogans.

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