Shanghai to ease restrictions in areas under zero-COVID status

After the lockdown dragged into its fifth week, Shanghai has recorded a drop in the numbers of cases for consecutive days. The city on Wednesday decided to take what epidemiologists said was “a major step toward lifting the lockdown” to ease restrictions in areas where COVID-19 infections were stamped outside the quarantined areas.

As infection cases continue to drop, the surging number of patients in severe condition poses another severe challenge for Shanghai to cope with in the upcoming COVID-19 battle. Experts believe the pressure of treating those patients on Shanghai’s medical system will be short-lived, as the metropolis ramps up efforts to expand ICU beds and is propped up by medical experts nationwide.

Shanghai’s current situation also highlights the need to stick to the dymanic zero-COVID policy, said experts, pointing out if Shanghai, endowed with the country’s best medical system, is in dire need of help facing rising numbers of severe cases, who will be there to offer help if other parts of China also have to battle the onslaught of the coronavirus?

In official figures released Wednesday, Shanghai reported a 20.1 percent drop in new COVID-19 cases over the last 24 hours to 1,606 confirmed cases and 11,956 silent carriers, marking its fourth consecutive day of declines.

Zhao Dandan, a deputy director of the Shanghai Municipal Health Commission, said at Wednesday’s press briefing that 51 million tests were conducted in the past five days, and the rate of positive cases has been gradually dropping.

Areas that have been declared to have stamped out viral infections outside the quarantined areas could see some easing of restrictions and control measures.

A resident who gave his surnamed as Jin in Shanghai’s Minhang district said his compound had allowed residents to roam freely within the compound since Tuesday, after he was confined in his home for 27 consecutive days. “I can go down for a limited period of time, but it’s good enough for me now,” said Jin.

Jin explained that the policies vary in different compounds, depending on whether positive cases had been detected in their buildings.

However, two residents, one from Jinshan and one from Chongming, the first two districts in the city to have achieved zero-COVID status outside the quarantined facilities and cordoned-off or controlled areas, said they haven’t received any notice of policy changes.

Zhao declared on Wednesday that the city would begin another round of testing for its residents from Wednesday to Saturday to further tweak restrictive measures in certain areas.

Epidemiologists see Shanghai’s latest measure as a major step for the financial center to gradually lift its lockdown, under carefully orchestrated measures. “Shanghai already saw its inflection point during the second week of April, when numbers of daily cases topped 25,000. Since then, the numbers have been declining,” an expert from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Chinese CDC), who requested anonymity, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

Shanghai’s new positive cases reported for Tuesday account for roughly 94 percent of the national Tuesday tally. -The Daily Mail-Global Times News Exchange Item