Shanghai sees record number of Covid-19 cases at over 23k as Guangzhou plans mass tests

The nationwide tally for Friday (April 9) was at 25,701 new cases, with more than 23,600 from Shanghai. PHOTO: REUTERS

SHANGHAI (REUTERS, BLOOMBERG) - Shanghai carried out another round of mass Covid-19 testing on Saturday (April 9), this time testing residents at least twice in a single day, as a city official in China’s financial hub acknowledged shortcomings in the handling of the outbreak.

It was the fourth consecutive day of city-wide testing in Shanghai.

The nationwide tally for Friday (April 8) was at 25,701 new cases, with more than 23,600 from Shanghai, a new record, according to official data. 

Shanghai residents were asked to self-administer antigen tests on Saturday, sometimes even two, and then to queue in their compounds later in the day for PCR tests. 

Shanghai Deputy Mayor Zong Ming announced tweaks to the government’s lockdown policy at a press briefing on Saturday.

Overall measures remained stringent, however, as residents living in communities with Covid-19 cases in the past seven days are barred from leaving their homes, while those living in compounds without infections in the past week will not need to be confined to their homes, but cannot leave those areas.

People living in compounds where no Covid-19 cases are detected in the past 14 days can move more freely, but must adhere to social distancing rules.

Shanghai is building isolation facilities for hundreds of thousands of people at conference centres as the country sticks to the Covid Zero strategy to eliminate infections.

China’s financial hub has seen cases grow quickly since a lockdown was imposed on March 28 that has now extended to the entire city. 

A prolonged outbreak also threatens China’s supply chain. Containers loaded with food and chemicals are piling up at China’s biggest port in Shanghai as the lockdown measures led to a shortage of truckers to pick up boxes at the docks. 

In Guangzhou, all 11 districts of the city announced plans to begin coronavirus testing, China Central Television reported on Saturday. It reported two confirmed cases and an asymptomatic one for Friday, according to official data.

Guangzhou, which hosts one of China’s top container ports, conducted mass testing in December after a cargo flight crew worker tested positive.

Yantian terminal at Shenzhen port in southern China will halt the collection and delivery of containers at all berths for about two hours on Sunday to maintain the port system, according to an advisory sent to customers.

This is the second such suspension this week after a halt ordered on Thursday. It is not immediately clear if the maintenance is Covid-related.

The US State Department has allowed the voluntary departure of non-emergency staff of the Shanghai consulate as well as family members of the staff. 

The city of 25 million residents is struggling to provide basic groceries and medical care to families that have been sealed off in their homes for more than a week. The failure has triggered growing public discontent.

The city government has said it is trying to get more couriers back on to the streets and reopen supermarkets.

E-commerce company said it had obtained a licence to deliver goods into Shanghai, triggering a buyer rush to its platform.

Mr Zong acknowledged at a news conference that authorities had not met the public’s expectations in their handling of the situation.

“We feel the same way about the problems everyone has raised and voiced,” he said. “A lot of our work has not been enough, and there’s still a big gap from everyone’s expectations. We will do our best to improve.”  

In Beijing, the municipal government placed a high-risk area under lockdown after eight confirmed Covid-19 cases in the last two weeks, Dr Pang Xinghuo, deputy director of the Beijing Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, told reporters.


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