Coronavirus Global situation

Shanghai hopes to start easing curbs by end of next week

Plan now is to eliminate cases outside quarantine zones to allow for return to normalcy

SHANGHAI/BEIJING • Locked-down Shanghai aims to ringfence its Covid-19 outbreak over the next week, officials have said, while residents in China's capital Beijing largely heeded the advice of the authorities to work from home to stem the virus' spread.

Easing weeks of punishing restrictions in the commercial hub would bring relief to China's battered economy, although there is growing concern that Beijing may yet take a similar course of action if it fails to get a nascent outbreak under control.

Shanghai's deputy mayor, Mr Wu Qing, said the city of 25 million aims to eliminate Covid-19 outside of quarantined zones within the next week or so. After that, the city's lockdown will be "lifted in batches", with shops opened and traffic restrictions eased, he said in an announcement yesterday, with Bloomberg reporting the target date as May 20.

The vast majority of Shanghai's more than 2,000 new cases are in areas already under the tightest controls, while those found in the relatively freer communities are the ones most closely watched for clues as to where Shanghai's outbreak is heading. The number of such cases rose to four on Thursday, up from two the previous day.

Last week, some of Shanghai's residents were allowed outside their housing compounds for brief walks and grocery shopping but the city has in recent days been tightening curbs.

More and more areas have entered what the authorities call "silent management mode", which typically means boards or fences around buildings, no deliveries and residents once again stuck indoors.

Beijing's daily Covid-19 caseloads are a fraction of Shanghai's, but there are signs the worst may still be to come in the capital.

Beijing reported 51 new cases yesterday, of which 11 were not in the so-called "controlled areas" under the tightest restrictions.

It is the highest number of cases found in the community at large since April 29, when Beijing started to provide clear data on where cases had been found.

Amid a growing sense of caution, Beijing officials late on Thursday denied rumours of an imminent lockdown, urging people not to panic-buy but to stay at home. They also announced a new round of mass testing across most of the city.

The authorities in the capital had already banned dine-in services at restaurants, closed some malls, entertainment and tourist venues, suspended sections of the bus, subway and taxi systems and imposed lockdowns on some residential buildings.

Covid-19 curbs have placed hundreds of millions of people in dozens of major cities under various degrees of restriction, hurting consumption and manufacturing, and disrupting trade and global supply chains.


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 14, 2022, with the headline Shanghai hopes to start easing curbs by end of next week. Subscribe