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Shanghai braces for final battle against COVID, Beijing outbreak lingers By Reuters


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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A medical worker in a protective suit collects a cotton swab sample from a chef for nucleic acid testing, during lockdown, amid the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic, in Shanghai, China May 13, 2022. REUTERS/Aly Song

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SHANGHAI/BEIJING (Reuters) – Shanghai was tightening its COVID-19 lockdown for what it hoped would be the last week of its battle with the virus before it could gradually start easing restrictions, while Beijing continued to battle its outbreak much smaller but persistent.

China’s mall of 25 million people hoped to emerge from its painful six-week lockdown later this month. On Saturday, authorities hoped a final round of tightening would stamp out the last infections from the pandemic’s worst COVID outbreak in the country.

Many residents of the country’s most populous city, allowed to leave their housing compounds about a week ago for short walks or quick grocery trips, have recently received a stay-inside notice for a “silent” period of three days.

Many buildings were told overnight that the restriction would be extended until Friday. Being silent usually means residents can’t leave their homes, and in some cases it can mean no delivery.

Linette Lim, who has spent more than 40 days in solitary confinement, said her community received such notice on Friday, a day after its official risk levels were lowered to a level which, in theory, should have led to looser restrictions.

“It’s very frustrating because everyone has been asked to make sacrifices, to overcome the current difficulties for the collective good, and people have always been respecting and dealing with whatever is thrown at them,” says -she.

“But somehow the goal posts keep moving,” Lim said. “Nerves are on edge and people have no end goal to achieve. »

CLOSURE OF QUARANTINE CENTERS

Hundreds of millions of people in dozens of Chinese cities are living under varying degrees of COVID restrictions. The measures hurt consumption and manufacturing in the world’s second-largest economy and disrupt global trade and supply chains.

Some analysts expect the economy to contract this quarter. Officials promised more stimulus.

China will offer grants, tax breaks and easier loans to boost prospects for college graduates, the firm said on Friday, as a record 10.76 million are put into college on arrival and the labor market this year in a weaker economy.

China’s unemployment rate hit its highest level in nearly two years in March at 5.8%, while youth unemployment was 16%, the highest since July 2021.

Shanghai city official Ding Bo said on Saturday the number of patients in quarantine hospitals had fallen to 50,000, one-fifth of the peak recorded last month. Authorities therefore closed five quarantine centers, he said.

The city has reported more than 1,500 daily cases of coronavirus, up from more than 2,000 the day before – all in areas under the tightest controls.

Cases found in relatively freer communities are being closely monitored for clues to the direction of the outbreak. One case of this type was detected on Friday, against four the day before.

Beijing has reported 56 daily cases, down from 50 previously. The capital has been detecting a few dozen new cases almost every day since the first infections of its epidemic were discovered on April 22.

Officials in the capital this week denied rumors of an impending lockdown, urging people not to panic buy but to stay at home. Locals seemed to heed the advice as many streets in Beijing were eerily quiet.

Mass testing in most of the city has become an almost daily routine.

Authorities in the capital had already banned dine-in services at restaurants, closed some shopping malls, entertainment and tourist venues, suspended sections of the bus, metro and taxi systems and imposed closures on some residential buildings.

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