“Stop asking why”: Shanghai tightens covid curbs, with May Goal

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Coronavirus: COVID-19 cases have been reported in China amid the Omicron wave.

Shanghai:

Shanghai is tightening its already strict COVID-19 lockdown in another effort to eliminate infections outside the quarantine areas of China’s largest city at the end of this month, people familiar with the matter said.

Curbs are likely to vary in the city’s 16 districts as some have already reached the target, but people said movement restrictions will generally remain in place until the end of May due to fears of an uptick despite the recent decline. numbers of cases in the country’s worst coronavirus outbreak.

Reports from residents in several districts and social media posts showed that the government of the city of 25 million has accelerated and expanded its efforts to transfer close contacts of positive cases to central quarantine centers.

Multiple residents said they had to move to such facilities, despite testing negative, after cases were found in their buildings, sparking frustration.

Other residents said they were told by their residential complex on Saturday that they would no longer be able to leave their front doors or estates, or receive supplies for a week as part of efforts to reach the goal of “zero community-level cases.”

The Shanghai government did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Shanghai reports thousands of cases a day, the vast majority in closed-off areas such as central quarantine facilities, buildings under “closed loop” management and residences where residents are not allowed to leave their front doors.

Ending community-level transmission outside such areas was a turning point for lockdown in cities like Shenzhen, where public transportation reopened last month and allowed people back to work.

But Shanghai has struggled to end community transmission in the face of the infectious Omicron variant. Authorities initially wanted to reach the target on April 20, Reuters reported last month, but succeeded in only two districts.

‘THERE IS NO WHY’

On Saturday, authorities in Putuo and Changning districts issued notices that residents of residential complexes classified as the city’s lowest-risk “preventive” areas could no longer leave their housing complexes.

A resident of the Pudong New Area district, where Shanghai’s financial center is located, told Reuters that he had received a similar message from his compound.

In the Xuhui district, which includes the former French concession area, residents of nine residential complexes told Reuters they had been notified on Saturday by their neighborhood committees that they would not be allowed to leave their front doors or receive deliveries for at least a week.

“This is to achieve ‘zero community-level cases’ as soon as possible and lift the lockdown,” said a Xuhui report seen by Reuters. It said the curbs would be in place until May 15.

A neighborhood committee said on its official WeChat account that for community safety, it had to move all residents of one building and disinfect the area after a resident tested positive.

A video shared thousands of times on social media showed that the hazardous materials-capable police were arguing with residents who had been told to quarantine after a neighbor tested positive.

“This is so that we can thoroughly remove any positive cases,” one officer says. “Stop asking me why, there’s no why. We must abide by national guidelines and policies to control epidemics.”

Reuters was unable to independently verify the video.

Shanghai has reached zero-COVID outside quarantine areas only twice in the entire city, on April 30 and May 1. Since then, daily cases have been in double digits. City officials have said districts with no cases out of quarantine for three consecutive days were deemed to have met the target.

As of Saturday, Shanghai reported 11 cases outside quarantine zones in five districts.

Officials have provided little clarity on how they will eventually lift the lockdown and are warning the public against complacency.



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