Shanghai begins easing lockdown after another massive test

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BEIJING (AP) – China’s largest city, Shanghai, will soon begin lifting lockdowns in communities that report no positive cases within 14 days of a new round of COVID-19 testing, authorities said on Saturday.

The new round of testing comes as the city reported about 23,000 cases on Saturday, most of them asymptomatic. Large areas of Shanghai, with a population of 26 million, have been shut down since March 28, sparking complaints from residents about food shortages and basic needs.

Separately, Guangzhou authorities announced that the city northwest of Hong Kong would also begin mass testing of its 18 million residents, according to central broadcaster CCTV. The city reported only two confirmed infections on Friday.

Under the new measures, areas in Shanghai will be classified as “precautionary,” “monitored” or “closed,” depending on the results of the latest round of testing, Shanghai vice mayor Zong Ming told a news conference.

Residents in “precautionary” areas where there have been no infections in the past two weeks can move around their district, although gatherings are still limited. Meanwhile, residents in “controlled” areas can move in their neighborhoods, which are smaller than districts, while “closed” areas require everyone to stay at home.

During the press conference, Zong was filled with emotion and said she was moved by the efforts of residents and frontline workers. “There is still a big difference with everyone’s expectations. We will do our best to improve it,” she said.

The city has built more than 100 makeshift hospitals to treat COVID-19 patients with more than 160,000 beds.

But the harsh restrictions on movement have also tested the residents’ patience. Some have received food parcels from the government with meat and vegetables. However, many struggle to get hold of rice and other basic necessities, with online sellers selling out and delivery services unable to keep up with demand.

China is facing one of its worst local outbreaks since the start of the pandemic.

It is one of the few countries to stick to a “zero COVID” policy, taking drastic measures such as lockdowns and mass testing to identify and isolate each individual case. China is still closed to international travel, even as most of the world has sought ways to live with the virus.

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