Next confinement in Shanghai – “race against time”

Coronavirus – China has sent more than 10,000 health workers to Shanghai from across the country, including 2,000 military personnel, to fight the fast-spreading coronavirus outbreak in China’s biggest city. – © Photo: Andy Wong/AP/dpa

The Chinese port metropolis of Shanghai has extended the corona lockdown indefinitely for its 26 million inhabitants.

Due to the rapid increase in infections, Vice Party leader Gu Honghui on Tuesday spoke of a “race against time”. The previous day’s mass testing, its verification and the transport of infected people to quarantine must first be completed before a decision is made on the continuation of control measures. “The situation is very urgent.”

In China’s worst corona wave for two years, Beijing’s health commission reported a record high of more than 16,000 new infections. With more than 15,000, most cases are recorded as asymptomatic. In Shanghai alone, 268 illnesses and more than 13,000 infections without symptoms have been reported after mass testing in recent days – for the first time more than 10,000 in one day. Jilin province in northeast China is also hard hit, where there are also curfews and millions of people are being tested.

Strict strategy

China is still pursuing a strict zero-Covid strategy, which is being tested with Omikron. In China, anyone infected goes to a hospital or quarantine facility that has been set up in gymnasiums and exhibition halls, hotels or training centers in Shanghai. But they reach their limits. The city has recorded 73,000 infections since early March. There are 47,700 makeshift beds. Another 30,000 should be ready soon. Additionally, more than 110,000 close contacts have been identified, who are being tracked separately.

In fact, curfews in western Shanghai are only expected to apply from Friday to Tuesday. But as before in the east and south, where the lockdown is expected to run from Monday to Friday, people are still being told to stay at home. “The virus has been spreading rapidly and secretly,” Vice Party leader Gu Honghui said.

Authorities deliver food, but complaints abound. The deputy party leader admitted that obstacles “in the last 100 metres” should be removed. He also admitted that the chronically ill or pregnant women had problems receiving medical care. Particular outrage has been caused by the fact that infected children are separated from their parents. Only if a parent is infected themselves can they be quarantined together with the child.

But no delay?

Officials at the world’s largest port in Shanghai dismissed reports of delays. Operations are proceeding normally. Wait times are within the usual range. According to press reports, however, there are problems with the transport of goods by land. Many truckers from neighboring provinces have been reluctant to travel to Shanghai, which also requires corona tests. Necessary personnel are also stuck at home due to the lockdown.

About 40,000 medical workers from other regions have been transferred to Shanghai, including 2,000 military doctors. It is the largest mobilization of medical personnel in China since the outbreak of the pandemic in the metropolis of Wuhan, where the virus was first discovered in late 2019 and then overwhelmed hospitals.

Since then, the country’s most populous country has managed to fight epidemics with lockdowns, mass testing, quarantines, disruption of transport links and international lockdowns. Life has been largely normal for the past two years. With the rate at which Omicron is spreading, however, strict measures are working less and less.

Nevertheless, the country apparently wants to stick to the strict zero-Covid policy. Political leaders also see their success to date as proof of the superiority of the communist system over Western democracies. But now natural immunity is lacking as China has seen few infections so far. Although many Chinese are vaccinated, according to the current state of knowledge, Chinese vaccines do not protect as effectively. Due to the feared side effects, people in particular risk groups have often not been vaccinated due to their age or illness and are therefore particularly at risk.

© dpa-infocom, dpa:220405-99-801768/2

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Copyright © dpa – German Press Agency 2022

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