Shanghai allows 4 million to leave their homes as virus rules are relaxed

Four million more people in Shanghai have been allowed to leave their homes as Covid restrictions ease, a health official said.

A total of nearly 12 million people in the city of 25 million can go outdoors after the first round of easing last week, health official Wu Ganyu told a news conference, adding that the virus was ” under effective control” for the first time in some parts of the city.

Shanghai closed businesses and confined most of its population to their homes from March 28 after a spike in infections. That prompted complaints about lack of access to food and medicine supplies.

People in Shanghai who have tested positive but have no symptoms have been ordered to quarantine centers set up in exhibition halls and other public buildings.

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A medical worker conducts COVID-19 tests for residents in lockdown in Shanghai (AP Photo/Chen Si)

The closure of Shanghai and other industrial hubs to combat outbreaks has raised fears that global manufacturing and trade could be affected. Official data this week showed that economic activity in the first three months of this year declined compared to the last quarter of 2021.

China’s number of cases in its latest wave of infections is relatively low, but the ruling Communist Party is pursuing a “Covid Zero” strategy that has locked down major cities to isolate every case.

On Wednesday, the government reported 19,927 new cases in mainland China, of which all but 2,761 had no symptoms. Shanghai accounted for 95% of the total, or 18,902 cases, of which only 2,495 had symptoms.

The government reported that 26,760 people who tested positive but had no symptoms were released from observation on Wednesday. That included 25,411 in Shanghai, where some residents of the quarantine centers have complained they are unsanitary.

Other major industrial and commercial hubs, including Changchun, Jilin and Shenyang in the northeast, the port of Tianjin east of Beijing, and Shenzhen and Guangzhou in the south have closed businesses, imposed travel restrictions or told residents to stay home. .

That forced global automakers and other manufacturers to scale back or stop production because their suppliers couldn’t deliver.

Volkswagen AG announced this week that its Changchun factory had resumed production and the automaker was considering when it would reopen its Shanghai facility. BMW AG said its factory in Shenyang has reopened.

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