Shanghai shuts down schools, gyms, bars as Covid-19 returns

The tightening comes as Shanghai reported 38 new infections, all of which were found in its quarantine system. PHOTO: AFP

SHANGHAI - Shanghai is quietly shutting down schools and a raft of other venues as officials try to rein in a Covid-19 flare-up that has hit the financial hub just days before one of China's most important political events.

Several schools dotted throughout the city have suspended in-person classes as the fear of infection spread grows, according to parents and social media posts.

At least five districts have closed entertainment venues, including cinemas, bars and gyms, in an effort to stamp out transmission, according to statements issued by Covid-19 prevention offices.

The authorities said on Sunday there is no citywide school shutdown after speculation rippled through social media that the measure would be rolled out.

But the creeping suspensions, as well as a ramp up in other restrictions such as the lockdown of neighbourhoods and individual residential compounds, have left Shanghai's 25 million residents on edge.

As well as schools, venues such as gyms and bars have shut in the Shanghai districts of Changning, Putuo, Jiading, Yangpu, and Qingpu.

Shanghai Disney Resort said last Saturday that some facilities have been shut and performances cancelled to follow the Covid-19 control requirements.

Social media users lamented the never-ending cycle of shutdowns and reopenings that is a feature of China's Covid-Zero policy.

Others speculated whether they may face another lockdown just months after a two-month ordeal that saw many in Shanghai struggle to access food and medical care.

The tightening comes as Shanghai reported 38 new infections, all of which were found in its quarantine system.

While small by international standards, the flareup is occurring just days before China's once-in-five-years Party Congress, when President Xi Jinping is expected to secure a precedent-breaking third term in power.

Mr Xi has made Covid-Zero a cornerstone of his leadership, despite its growing social and economic cost, and China's propaganda machine has ramped up its defence of the policy this week, in a sign that there will be no shift towards living with the virus any time soon. BLOOMBERG

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