Shanghai Covid-19 cases drop even as tight restrictions persist

Residents line up for Covid-19 tests during lockdown in Shanghai, China, on May 4, 2022. PHOTO: REUTERS

SHANGHAI (BLOOMBERG) - Shanghai reported its fewest Covid-19 cases in more than six weeks even as tight restrictions persist after President Xi Jinping reaffirmed the nation's stringent Covid Zero policy.

The financial hub reported 3,947 cases for Sunday (May 8), down slightly from 3,975 cases on Saturday, CCTV reported. On the weekend, Premier Li Keqiang warned of a "complicated and grave" employment situation as Beijing and Shanghai tightened curbs on residents in a bid to contain Covid-19 outbreaks in China's most important cities.

Mr Li instructed all government departments and regions to prioritise measures aimed at helping businesses retain jobs and weather the current difficulties, according to a late Saturday statement, which cited the premier's comments in a nationwide teleconference on employment.

Both Shanghai and Beijing increased restrictions on their residents on Sunday to achieve the Covid Zero goal, with authorities in the financial hub stepping up efforts to quarantine close contacts of people testing positive for the virus.

People living in the same building of confirmed cases now also risk being transported to designated quarantine facilities, according to local residents and widely circulated social media posts. Previously, only people living in the same apartment or the same floor of positive cases would likely be considered close contacts and put under central quarantine.

In Beijing, authorities on Sunday required all residents in its eastern district of Chaoyang - home to embassies and offices of multinationals including Apple and Alibaba Group Holding - to start working from home.

This followed an order to shut down some businesses providing non-essential services such as gyms and movie theatres in the district to minimise infections.

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