BEIJING (AP) — China has dispatched more than 10,000 health workers to Shanghai from across the country, including 2,000 military medical workers, as it struggles to contain a fast-spreading COVID-19 outbreak in China’s largest city.
The city conducted a mass test of its 25 million residents on Monday as what was said to be a two-phase lockdown entered its second week. While many factories and financial firms have been able to continue operating by isolating their workers, concerns grew about the potential economic impact of a prolonged lockdown in China’s financial capital and a major shipping and manufacturing hub.
The highly contagious Omicron BA.2 form of the virus is testing China’s ability to maintain its zero-COVID approach, which aims to stop outbreaks from spreading by isolating all those who test positive, whether they have symptoms or not not. Shanghai has turned an exhibition hall and other facilities into massive isolation centers, housing people with mild or no symptoms in a sea of beds separated by makeshift partitions.
China on Monday reported more than 13,000 new cases across the country in the past 24 hours, of which nearly 12,000 were asymptomatic. About 9,000 of the cases involved Shanghai. The other major outbreak occurred in northeast China’s Jilin Province, where more than 3,500 new cases have emerged.
The English-language newspaper China Daily said nearly 15,000 medical workers from neighboring provinces of Jiangsu and Zhejiang left their hospitals by bus for Shanghai early Monday. More than 2,000 personnel from the army, navy and joint logistics support force arrived on Sunday, according to a Chinese military newspaper.
At least four other provinces have also dispatched doctors, nurses and other medical personnel to Shanghai, the state-owned China Daily said.
While most shops and other businesses in Shanghai are closed, major manufacturers including automakers General Motors Co. and Volkswagen AG say their factories are still operating. VW has cut production due to an interruption in the supply of parts.
Businesses that are in operation enforce “closed-loop” policies that isolate employees from the outside world. Thousands of stock traders and others in the financial industry are sleeping in their offices, according to the Daily Economic News.
According to a survey conducted last week by the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai and the American Chamber of Commerce in China, three out of five foreign companies with offices in Shanghai say they have lowered this year’s sales forecasts. A third of the 120 companies that responded to the survey said they had delayed investing.