COVID-19 cases surge in Shanghai, millions in lockdown

BEIJING (AP) — COVID-19 cases in China’s largest city Shanghai are still rising as millions remain isolated at home under a sweeping lockdown.

Health officials on Sunday reported 438 confirmed cases detected in the past 24 hours, along with 7,788 asymptomatic cases. Both values ​​were slightly above the previous day.

Though small by the standards of some countries, the daily case numbers are among the largest since the virus was first detected in downtown Wuhan in late 2019.

Shanghai, home to 26 million people, began a two-stage lockdown last week, with residents in the eastern Pudong section allowed to leave their homes on Friday while their western Puxi section neighbors went through their own four-day isolation phase.

Despite this assurance, millions of people in Pudong remain confined to their homes due to complaints about food deliveries and the availability of medicines and health services.

Notices delivered to residents said they had to test themselves daily for COVID-19 and take precautions, including wearing masks at home and avoiding contact with family members — measures that have not been widely adopted since the early days of the pandemic.

A city official issued an apology last week in response to complaints about the government’s handling of the lockdown, and a deputy premier made sweeping calls for improvements during a tour of Shanghai on Saturday.

Sun Chunlan, who sits in the ruling Communist Party’s Politburo, urged “firm and swift steps to curb the spread of COVID-19 in Shanghai as soon as possible,” the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

However, Sun stressed China’s “unwavering adherence” to China’s no-compromise “zero-COVID” approach, which mandates lockdowns, enforced isolation of all suspected cases and mass testing, while acknowledging the social and economic toll it will take.

“It is an arduous task and great challenge to combat the Omicron variant while maintaining the normal operation of core functions in a megacity,” Sun said.

She called for protecting key industries and institutions, as well as the functioning of supply and industrial chains in the trade hub, and ensuring “people’s basic living conditions and normal medical needs.”

State media reports suggest that Communist Party President and leader Xi Jinping is leading the ongoing crackdown while trying to avoid further damage to the faltering economy and ensure overall stability ahead of a key party convention expected in November will.

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