Shanghai is preparing to ease its lockdown over the city’s 25 million people with authorities hoping Covid transmissions will mostly be limited to quarantine facilities.
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Amid China’s worst outbreak since Wuhan at the start of the pandemic, Shanghai continues to report tens of thousands of cases a day, with the majority among people in quarantine or isolation.
On Monday, Reuters reported officials had set a target of reaching “zero-Covid at the community level” by Wednesday.
Currently, all positive cases must be isolated, mostly in mass dormitory-style warehouses, or in hospitals if treatment is required.
Community-level zero-Covid will have been achieved once there is no further spread among the local population outside of quarantine and isolation facilities.
Reaching such a target led to an easing of restrictions in other cities during recent outbreaks.
The number of new local transmissions detected on Monday fell to 19,442 from 21,395 the previous day, with 550 cases found outside the quarantine zones, down from 561 the day before.
Shanghai’s new target was communicated in a speech officially dated Saturday, to the city’s Communist party and organisations such as schools, according to Reuters’ sources, who declined to be named as the information was not public.
China remains committed to its zero-Covid policy, despite the spread of the highly infectious Omicron strain across the country.
The Chinese population has a degree of immunity because of vaccination but not exposure to the virus, because they handled it so well,” said Prof Robert Booy, infectious diseases and vaccine expert from the University of Sydney.
“The problem China has now is the Wuhan virus had a reproduction number of two, where the new ones have 12 or more. So it will be almost impossible to control despite the extraordinary efforts of quarantining millions of people at a time and testing them. It would be a miracle if they could control the virus despite their extremely fastidious approaches."