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  17 May 2022, 11:44

Shanghai says 'zero-Covid' achieved but millions still in lockdown

SHANGHAI, May 17, 2022 (BSS/AFP) - Shanghai on Tuesday declared it had

achieved "zero-Covid" across all its districts, sparking derision on social
media as millions in China's biggest city remained under lockdown.

Confronted with its worst outbreak since the beginning of the pandemic, China
-- the last major economy still closed off to the world -- put the city of 25
million under heavy restrictions in early April.

The government's insistence on squashing the Omicron variant-driven outbreak
prompted rare protests and angry scuffles with authorities as Shanghai
residents reject the prolonged confinement and food shortages.

"All 16 districts of Shanghai have already achieved zero-Covid at the
community level," Shanghai health commission official Zhao Dandan told
reporters on Tuesday.

That means none of the over 1,000 new infections recorded on Tuesday was
detected outside of quarantined areas, city authorities said.

Vice mayor Chen Tong said Sunday that the city would gradually reopen
businesses starting this week, without giving specifics.

But millions in Shanghai were still unable to leave their residential
compounds on Tuesday.

More than 3.8 million people officially were still under the strictest forms
of lockdown in the city, according to official figures.

China's strategy to achieve zero Covid cases includes strict border closures,
length quarantines, mass testing and rapid, targeted lockdowns.

Social media erupted in disbelief at the gap between official statements and
the reality of life under an enduring lockdown.

"Since society has reached Covid-zero, why are people in Songjiang district
still only allowed to go out once every two days?" a blogger on the Twitter-
like Weibo asked.

"Is this a parallel universe Shanghai?" asked another.

In some areas of the city, restrictions have even been quietly tightened in
recent days.

Live video broadcast Tuesday by Chinese media showed crowds gathering at
Shanghai's Hongqiao Railway Station as train services leaving the city
resumed.

People are only allowed to leave Shanghai after receiving permission and
taking multiple Covid tests.

China has shown no sign of giving up its protracted struggle to maintain zero
Covid cases, despite the mounting economic costs of miserable retail, house
and car sales and climbing unemployment.

Beijing is mass testing residents almost every day after a surge in cases --
counted in the dozens each day but still enough to prompt tight restrictions
on movement and association.

Millions of people in the capital have been ordered to work from home and
transport services have been suspended as people feared a repeat of
Shanghai's lockdown chaos.

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