Shanghai hits easing goal of 3 days without community Covid-19 cases

Workers set up barriers to seal off an area during lockdown in Shanghai, China, on May 16, 2022. PHOTO: REUTERS

SHANGHAI (BLOOMBERG) - Shanghai reported no new Covid-19 infections in the broader community for a third consecutive day, hitting a crucial milestone that authorities have said will allow them to start unwinding a lockdown that has gripped the Chinese financial hub for more than six weeks.

The city reported a total of 823 infections for Monday (May 16), down from 938 on Sunday. Government officials previously said that having no community spread for three straight days was a prerequisite to start easing the toughest elements of the lockdown and broadly resuming business activity. They had previously set a target of meeting the milestone by May 20.

China's adherence to zero tolerance for Covid-19 - epitomised by Shanghai's lockdown and other restrictions imposed elsewhere in the country - has slowed everything from consumer spending to manufacturing in the world's second largest economy. Industrial output and consumer spending slid to the worst levels in April since the pandemic began.

The three-day streak comes after a handful of daily community cases were found during the past two weeks, prompting officials to enact more restrictions such as sending all residents from an entire apartment building to quarantine facilities in an effort to eradicate the highly-infectious Omicron variant.

Shanghai aims to return to normal life and restore full production by mid-to-late June, Vice Mayor Zong Ming said at a briefing on Monday. Taxis and private cars will gradually be allowed back on the roads in some areas from Monday, while train and bus services will resume from May 22.

Elsewhere in the country, the capital Beijing reported 52 cases for Monday, down slightly from 54 for Sunday. The city will start another three rounds of mass testing in a dozen districts as infections continue to emerge from outside the areas that are deemed high risk and already under quarantine.

In the nearby port city of Tianjin, a new flareup has emerged, likely set off by an infection from a worker at a cold storage facility, state broadcaster CCTV reported, citing local health authorities.

The city of nearly 14 million people detected 28 infections during a mass testing drive, after an earlier outbreak in January caused disruptions for global carmakers Toyota Motor and Volkswagen.

In the south-western province of Sichuan, a flareup is ballooning in the city of Guang’an. It has posted more than 400 infections over a period of a week.  

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.