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COVID Is Not Over: Shanghai Starts China’s Biggest Lockdowns In 2 Years

COVID Is Not Over: Shanghai Starts China’s Biggest Lockdowns In 2 Years

China began its most extensive coronavirus lockdown in two years on Monday to conduct mass testing and control a growing outbreak in Shanghai as questions are raised about the economic toll of the nation’s “zero-COVID” strategy.

Shanghai, China’s financial capital and largest city with 26 million people, had managed its smaller previous outbreaks with limited lockdowns of housing compounds and workplaces where the virus was spreading. But the citywide lockdown, which will be conducted in two phases, will be China’s most extensive since the central city of Wuhan, where the virus was first detected in late 2019, confined its 11 million people to their homes for 76 days in early 2020. Millions more have been kept in lockdown since then.

 

Already, many communities within Shanghai have been locked down for the past week, with their housing compounds blocked off with blue and yellow plastic barriers and residents required to submit to multiple tests for COVID-19. Shanghai’s Disneyland theme park is among the businesses that closed earlier. Automaker Tesla is also suspending production at its Shanghai plant, according to media reports.

Shanghai detected another 3,500 cases of infection on Sunday, though all but 50 were people who tested positive for the coronavirus but were not showing symptoms of COVID-19. While people who are asymptomatic can still infect others, China categorizes such cases separately from “confirmed cases” — those in people who are sick — leading to much lower totals in daily reports.

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Nationwide, 1,219 new confirmed cases of domestic infection were detected on Sunday, more than 1,000 of them in the northeastern province of Jilin, along with 4,996 asymptomatic cases, the National Health Commission reported on Monday. Two deaths were reported on March 20th in Jilin. Before that, mainland China’s official death toll had stood at 4,636 for a year.

Scientists in the United States are keeping an eye on this latest outbreak, as the BA.2 variant continues to spread nationwide. Overall in the U.S., the seven-day average of new cases slipped to 30,120 on Sunday from 30,174 on Saturday, but has now held above the 30,000 mark for a fifth-straight day after hitting an eight-month low of 28,985 on March 22nd.

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