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New Covid cases slow in Shanghai, but rise in Beijing

BEIJING — Shanghai appeared to be making gradual progress in containing coronavirus outbreaks on Wednesday, while Beijing continued to find more cases as it attempted to test nearly all of the city’s 22 million people three times in five days. capital city.

Shanghai announced its lowest total of new cases in weeks: 12,309. Only 171 of them were detected among people still in the wider community. The others were among people already isolated as contacts of previously infected people, and were less likely to infect others, according to city data.

Zhao Dandan, deputy director of the Shanghai Health Commission, told a press conference that authorities would allow limited activities in areas with no more virus transmission outside the quarantine, but would maintain the lockdown of the rest of the city.

Beijing officials said they detected 46 more cases in the 23 hours to mid-afternoon on Wednesday as a giant PCR testing program continues. Beijing has already processed 19.8 million tests since its first round of testing, said Li Ang, deputy head of the city’s quarantine and testing task force.

Beijing identified three more high-risk neighborhoods and four more medium-risk neighborhoods on Wednesday, a label that is prompting closures.

The scale of Beijing’s testing program is enormous. Folding tables have been set up every few blocks near major roads. Up to a half-dozen volunteers help direct residents and take their names, and several medical workers do the quick oral swabs.

Using so-called batch testing, many swabs are placed in a pink liquid in a single test tube and sent to a lab. If the fluid tests positive for the presence of the virus, authorities contact each person who had a swab in the tube and perform intensive nasal PCR testing.

Li said the city has mobilized 35,000 medical workers who collect the samples and 104,000 other volunteers and other auxiliaries to help them.

As of Wednesday evening, at a curbside neighborhood testing site in Chaoyang, the district of Beijing with the most cases, there were 18 people in line, many of them apparently on their way home from work. Two medical workers in blue full protective suits took oral samples at two well-separated tables.

Two other workers, dressed in full white hazmat suits, checked IDs. Eleven other guards and other aides stood nearby, wearing disposable blue hospital gowns over their clothes. The line moved quickly and testing was free.

Richard Reithinger, vice president for global health at the Research Triangle Institute, a nonprofit research group in North Carolina, said the scale of China’s testing program was impressive but some of the resources could be best used to expand immunization. China still lags far behind Western countries in the proportion of elderly residents in particular who have been vaccinated.

Beijing now has 138 cases since last Friday spread across half of its 16 districts. Three dozen of those cases were linked to a single high school in southeast Beijing.

But most Beijing residents can still move freely around the capital. The inhabitants of the industrial cities of the interior are treated with much less kindness.

Yiwu, a city of nearly two million people in central China that is a center of commerce and manufacturing for everything from plastic toys to U.S. election campaign merchandise, ordered on Wednesday that no residents can leave his apartment complex until further notice after only three infections were found there. Baotou, a steel and rare-earth metals hub of nearly three million people in China’s Inner Mongolia region, went into lockdown on Monday night after just two cases were discovered, then detected another case.

The CSI 300 index of large company stock prices on the Shanghai and Shenzhen stock markets rose 2.9% on Wednesday as investors appeared to conclude that the worst of the current outbreak may be over. The index fell 4.9% on Monday amid concern over the detection of dozens of infections in Beijing over the weekend.

Taking a mandatory nucleic acid test every other day is not the biggest nuisance in the ongoing campaign against the coronavirus, Beijing residents said in interviews on Wednesday. Regular PCR tests are already a part of life for many.

Zhou Yunhong, a delicatessen from north-central Beijing, said she had taken a mandatory test every day since February due to a government requirement for anyone working with refrigerated food.

“I think that’s good – testing is responsible for our customers,” she said.

The biggest irritation cited by many Beijing residents is the strict rules preventing them from visiting family members in other cities or taking vacations, including during the May Day national holiday which begins this weekend.

Beijing has warned residents for months that if they leave the capital, they may not be allowed to return, lest they bring the virus back from other cities. But now other communities are beginning to discourage Beijing residents from coming, fearing they might also be carrying the coronavirus.

Li Kun, an egg vendor at a Beijing indoor market, said she lived just across the municipal border in Hebei province. But she had been unable to return home for almost two weeks to see her daughter, who is in high school and now lives alone in their home.

“Our village loudspeaker is shouting, ‘Beijing people can’t come in,’” she said. “I do a PCR test every day, I know I’m fine, but the people in the village don’t know; They are worried.”

Every night she has an online video chat with her daughter, she said, adding, “I want to go home.”

Li you and Liu Yi contributed to the research.

nytimes Gt

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