On 28 March, Shanghai kicked off a new round of Covid testing for residents in a bid to curb the transmission of the virus. The local government announced a phased lockdown – from the Eastern side of the Huangpu River to the Western – while the locals are being tested. Such new rules came into effect after the city recorded 3,500 new locally transmitted infections – mainly Omicron, including 3,450 asymptomatic cases.
Shanghai authorities said earlier this month that the city of some 25 million people would not go into a complete lockdown. That is why it is experimenting with the new phased lockdown measures, said Professor Wu Fan, associate dean of the Shanghai Medical School of Fudan University.
However, the locked-down region sees strict restrictions on daily life. During the lockdown, people and cars are only allowed in but not out of communities. Public transport will be suspended, and firms and factories must halt operations or work remotely. Before implementing the new rules, people living in the Eastern half snapped up food in grocery stores, feeling worried about keeping stocks of daily necessities.
Why is China not lifting Covid measures like many other countries? Because the current vaccine coverage rate is not sufficient to form a robust immune barrier. This leaves a large group of elderly and vulnerable people facing high risks of infection, said Liang Wannian, director of the National Health Commission’s Covid Response Expert Team.
He also added in an interview that while advancing drug and vaccine R&D, China may find a good time to open up again when the Omicron variant mutates into something milder, with lower transmission and death rates.