COVID setback for Shanghai, Beijing braces

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COVID setback for shanghai, beijing braces

China's commercial capital of Shanghai has been dealt a blow as authorities reported 58 new COVID-19 cases outside quarantine areas, while Beijing pressed on with testing millions of its people on a May Day holiday few were celebrating.

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Tough coronavirus measures in Shanghai have stirred rare public anger, with many of the city's 25 million people confined indoors for more than a month, some sealed inside fenced off residential compounds and many struggling to secure daily necessities.

Shanghai residents breathed a sigh of relief at the weekend with no cases confirmed outside quarantine areas for two days, but bad news came on Monday with the reporting of the 58 new infections.

Global Tech News Daily

Authorities did not comment on the new cases at a media briefing but members of the public weighed in online.

“They announced that they stamped out cases at the community level too early,” one person commented on the Weibo social media platform.

Global Tech News Daily

But many people also took heart from data that showed an encouraging trend with 32 new deaths on Sunday, compared with 38 a day earlier, and 6606 new asymptomatic cases, from 7084 the previous day.

“There is hope for May,” another Weibo user said.

The coronavirus first emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019 and for two years authorities managed to keep outbreaks largely under control with lockdowns and travel bans.

But the fast-spreading Omicron variant has tested China's 'zero-COVID' policy this year, an important one for President Xi Jinping who is expected to secure a precedent-setting third leadership term.

China's COVID policy looks increasingly bizarre to much of the outside world.

Many governments have eased restrictions, or thrown them off altogether, in a bid to “live with COVID” even though infections are spreading.

China has given no hint of deviating from its policy despite a mounting toll on the world's second-largest economy, and the ripples of disruption travelling out through global supply chains.

In the capital, home to 22 million people, authorities have tightened COVID restrictions over the five-day Labour Day holiday that runs until Wednesday, traditionally one of the busiest tourist seasons.

Beijing, with dozens of daily infections in an outbreak now approaching two weeks, has not locked down, instead relying on mass testing to locate and isolate infections.

Beijing's restaurants are closed for dining in and some apartment blocks are sealed shut.

The streets are quiet and residents who do venture out have to show negative virus tests to enter most public venues.

Authorities are tracking down close contacts of confirmed cases, warning them to stay at home and contact authorities, and calling on everyone to abide by lockdown rules.

China reported 7822 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday, down from 8329 a day earlier, the National Health Commission said on Monday.

All of China's 32 new deaths were in Shanghai, taking the country's overall official death toll since the virus emerged to 5092.

India, the only country with a comparable population to China's 1.4 billion people, has officially recorded more than half a million deaths, though some health experts believe its toll is even higher.

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