China’s commercial capital of Shanghai was dealt a blow on Monday, May 2, as authorities reported 58 new COVID-19 cases outside quarantine areas while Beijing pressed on with testing millions of its people on a May Day holiday few were celebrating.
Tough coronavirus measures in Shanghai have stirred rare public anger, with millions of the city’s 25 million people confined indoors for more than a month, some sealed inside fenced-off residential compounds, and many struggling to secure daily necessities.
Residents of Shanghai breathed a sigh of relief over the weekend when it was announced that no new illnesses had been verified outside of quarantine areas for two days, but terrible news arrived on Monday with the announcement of 50 infections.
Authorities declined to comment on the new instances during a press conference, but members of the public expressed their opinions online.
One commenter on the Weibo social media site said, “They stated that they stamped out incidents at the community level too early.”
Many individuals were encouraged by figures showing an improving trend, with 32 new fatalities on Sunday compared to 38 the day before, and 6,606 new asymptomatic cases compared to 7,084 the day before.
Another Weibo user expressed optimism for May.
The coronavirus initially appeared in the Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019, and officials used lockdowns and travel bans to keep outbreaks under control for the next two years.
However, the fast-spreading Omicron variety has put China’s “zero-COVID” policy to the test this year, a crucial test for President Xi Jinping, who is set to win a record-breaking third term.
New focus on Beijing
To most of the rest of the world, China’s COVID-19 policy appears odd, as many countries have loosened or eased restrictions in an attempt to “live with COVID” even though infections are growing.
Despite the rising toll on the world’s second-largest economy and the ripples of disruption spreading across global supply networks, China has shown no sign of veering from its policies.
Over the five-day Labor Day holiday, which runs through Wednesday and is generally one of the busiest tourist seasons, officials in the city, which has a population of 22 million people, strengthen COVID-19 restrictions.
Beijing, with dozens of daily infections in an outbreak now entering two weeks, has not locked down, instead of relying, at least for now, on mass testing to locate and isolate infections.
Restaurants in Beijing are closed for business, and several residential buildings have been evacuated. The streets remain quiet, and residents who do go out must produce proof of negative coronavirus testing to enter most public places.
Authorities are following down on confirmed cases’ close relatives, advising them to stay at home and contact authorities, and urging everyone to follow the lockdown guidelines.
On Sunday, China recorded 7,822 new COVID-19 cases, down from 8,329 the day before, according to the National Health Commission.
All 32 additional deaths in China occurred in Shanghai, bringing the country’s total death toll to 5,092 since the virus first surfaced.
India, the only country with a population similar to China’s 1.4 billion, has officially reported more than 500,000 fatalities, though some health experts estimate the number is far higher.