Shanghai district orders mass Covid-19 testing, lockdown

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BEIJING: China’s largest city, Shanghai, on Friday ordered mass testing of the 1.3 million residents of its central Yangpu district and confine them to their homes at least until the results are known.
The suit echoes measures ordered over the summer that led to a two-month shutdown of the entire city of 25 million that devastated its economy, sparked food shortages and rare clashes between residents and authorities.
At the beginning of the closure, the authorities said it would last only a few days, but later continued to extend the deadline.
China has shown no sign of backing away from its hard-line “zero-Covid” policy since a major congress of the ruling Communist Party concluded this week by giving authoritarian leader Xi Jinping a third five-year term in power and filling major organs with their loyal ones. .
Strict measures have been imposed across the country, from Shanghai in the east to Tibet in the west, where anti-lockdown protests have also taken place.
Video from a cell phone said to have been smuggled out of the region showed crowds of native Tibetans and Han Chinese immigrants milling in the streets of Lhasa to protest a lockdown that has lasted up to 74 days. The video was reportedly shot on Wednesday. There were no signs of violence.
Lhasa has been under tight surveillance since bloody anti-government protests broke out in the city in 2008 before spreading through Tibetan areas.
Despite public anger, the former Shanghai Communist Party committee chairman, the city’s top official and ultimately responsible for the lockdown measures, landed the No. 2 spot on the party’s all-powerful Politburo Standing Committee, an indication of Xi’s political elevation. loyal over those able to win public support through a competent administration.
Li Qiang, who had been Xi’s virtual chief of staff when he ran eastern Zhejiang province, was replaced by the mayor of Beijing. Chen Jining, former president of the prestigious Beijing Tsinghua University and minister of environmental protection.
Chen, 58, was educated at Brunel University London and worked at Imperial College London, where he earned a doctorate in civil and environmental engineering in 1993.
Many Chinese had hoped for a relaxation of strict anti-Covid-19 protocols, which remain in place even as much of the rest of the world has opened up. China’s borders remain largely closed and arrivals must undergo a 10-day quarantine at a designated location.
Despite its costs, and the fact that the World Health Organization called it unsustainable, China credits the strategy for keeping the number of cases and deaths at a fraction of those of other countries, although figures from Beijing have been frequently questioned.
China on Friday reported 1,337 new cases, most of them asymptomatic, and no new deaths. Shanghai reported 11 asymptomatic cases and Tibet had one confirmed case with symptoms and five asymptomatic cases. China says it has recorded a total of 2,58,660 cases and 5,226 deaths since the disease was first detected in the central city of Wuhan in late 2019.
In a sign that China’s tough measures will stick in the long run, Shanghai plans to build a permanent quarantine center on an island in the Huangpu River that bisects the financial hub, according to business magazine Caixin.
The 1.6 billion yuan ($221 million) project on Fuxing Island will expand existing facilities to create 3,009 isolation rooms and 3,250 beds, with construction expected to be completed in six months, Caixin said.
Vaccines developed in China are considered relatively ineffective and it has refused to approve foreign brands such as Pfizer, modernAstraZeneca and J&J.
Still, China wants more people to get booster shots before relaxing its restrictions. As of mid-October, 90% of Chinese were fully vaccinated and 57% had received a booster shot.
China has relied on domestically developed vaccines, mainly two inactivated vaccines that have proven effective in preventing death and serious illness, but less so than Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines in stopping the spread of the disease.
Chinese authorities have also not required vaccination: entering an office building or other public places requires a negative Covid-19 test, not proof of vaccination. And the country’s “covid-zero” approach means that only a small proportion of the population has been infected and developed immunity that way, compared to elsewhere.
As a result, it is unclear how widely Covid-19 would spread if travel warnings and quarantine mandates were lifted. Until then, a $1.4 billion hodgepodge of regulations and restrictions will remain in place across the country.
In Shigatse, Tibet’s second largest city, authorities announced that the “normal order of life and production” would resume on Friday.
Meanwhile, authorities on Wednesday ordered the confinement of 900,000 people in Wuhan for at least five days. In the remote province of Qinghai, the urban districts of the city of Xining have been closed since last Friday.
In Beijing, Universal Studios has closed its hotels and attractions “to comply with the prevention and control of the pandemic.”

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