BEIJING: Shanghai on Sunday reported nearly 25,000 locally transmitted Covid-19 cases for the day before as anxiety spread in other cities in China including Beijing about similar lockdowns being implemented to contain Omicron-driven outbreaks.
For Shanghai, it was more of the same on Sunday: Another day of record number of infections comprising 1,006 symptomatic and 23,937 asymptomatic infections; the local health commission said.
The city has recorded nearly 180,000 Covid-19 infections since the beginning of March; a vast majority of them mild in nature, which has strained both the health and civic infrastructure of China’s financial hub; a city of around 25 million residents.
The streets remained empty over the weekend; as authorities carried out fresh rounds of nucleic acid testings with only medics, police, volunteers and delivery personnel with special permission being allowed to step out.
Complaints of delivery bottlenecks continued to come out on social media; despite China’s Twitter-like Weibo removing hashtags related to food shortages in Shanghai.
Residents’ frustrations with the strict measures are showing with the Shanghai police; having to deploy helicopters and drones to warn off angry citizens from coming out of their homes and gathering on streets or even within their compounds.
“So far, a total of 225 police helicopters and police drones have been deployed; with a total flight time of more than 150 hours, and more than 250 prominent cases of outdoor walking and gathering in the sealed areas have been found;” a state media report said on Sunday.
The report in Mandarin said police aviation teams “…flew back and forth over the problematic spots without disturbing the public as much as possible; using the onboard loudspeaker and standard phrases to…warn and intervene”.
At the same time, the chopper and drones linked ground police forces to intervene as quickly as possible.
The “three-dimensional, grid-based inspection network covering the streets and communities” of Shanghai is focussed on curtailing the movement and gathering of people in the city, the report said.
Meanwhile in Beijing, residents over the weekend were exchanging notes on essentials to stock-up in case of a lockdown.
An unsubstantiated full-city lockdown buzz spread on social media; after Beijing’s municipal government placed a high-risk city area under lockdown on Saturday; following eight confirmed Covid-19 cases in the last two weeks.
An old list of essentials prepared and circulated by the Beijing government earlier in case of an emergency was widely shared in social media networks.
The list included food items such as rice; vegetables and meat, basic medicines and disinfectants.
Millions of students in Beijing have been asked to get tested for Covid-19 before rejoining school after a week-long holiday on Monday.
On Saturday, the southern megacity of Guangzhou; capital of Guangdong province, home to more than 18 million people; said it would begin testing across its 11 districts after cases were reported on Friday.
On Sunday Ningbo, a key port city near Shanghai, said it was closing all indoor dining at restaurants and hotels, and that people who had been in confined spaces would undergo testing daily for three days, without elaborating, a Reuters report said.
Overall, the mainland reported 1,318 new confirmed coronavirus cases on April 9; the national health commission (NHC) said Sunday, compared with 1,350 the day before.
The number of new asymptomatic cases, which China counts separately, stood at 25,111, compared with 23,815 a day earlier.
There were no new deaths, the NHC data released on Sunday said; leaving the death toll in China unchanged at 4,638.
China, meanwhile, has vowed to stick to the dynamic zero-Covid approach “…to rein in the highly contagious and elusive virus.”
“Treatment data in (the northeastern province of) Jilin show that Omicron is particularly lethal to vulnerable groups; such as those who are bedridden due to illnesses or undergoing haemodialysis treatment;” official news agency Xinhua said in a commentary on Sunday.
“This, coupled with the demographics; indicates that China’s medical system would risk a collapse leading to enormous loss to life if it gives up on epidemic prevention and control.”