Shanghai enters phased lockdown to contain worst Covid-19 outbreak

Shanghai, China, Mar 28 (EFE).- Shanghai, the most populous city in China and its financial hub with 24 million inhabitants, Monday began a two-phase lockdown to arrest the worst Covid-19 outbreak since the pandemic began two years ago.

The lockdown is the most extensive in an urban center that is likely to affect the Chinese and the world economies as the city is the global financial and logistics center.

But the authorities said they would implement the lockdown in two phases.

The first phase began Monday in Shanghai’s Pudong financial district and nearby areas east of the Huangpu River that divided the city.

The confinement of the population in these areas will last until Friday to pave the way for mass testing.

The five-day second phase will begin on Friday in the areas west of the river.

The government has ordered the suspension of public transport and asked the people to stay indoors.

The city on Monday morning registered 416 symptomatic and more than 14,000 asymptomatic cases.

People formed long-winding queues outside supermarkets Sunday evening to stock groceries after the government announced the lockdown.

Residents shared social media videos, showing people in queues as buyers quickly cleared shelves of food and household items in the panic buying of essentials.

People can order home deliveries of food and essential commodities, but delivery persons would not be allowed to enter residential complexes and could leave the supplies at the gates.

Officers have to ask their employees to work from home, except for life-saving services and those that are necessary for running the city” like energy, telecommunications, and power supply sectors.

Entry points to the city are blocked. Only those with a negative PCR test in the last 48 hours will be allowed to leave Shanghai.

Earlier, experts at the helm of the city’s pandemic prevention task force had ruled out any lockdown because of its critical role in running the Chinese and global economies.

Wu Fan, one of the experts on the task force, warned that if the city came to a standstill, “there would be many international cargo ships floating in the East China Sea,” affecting the national and the global economies.

Chinese netizens had wondered on social networks why the city was not being locked down as was done in Wuhan when the pandemic began.

Wu said Monday that “large-scale infections” had been detected and confining the infected would block the chain of the contagion.

He said the mass testing “will continue until all hidden risks are eliminated.”

This resurgence of the highly-contagious Omicron variant of the virus has pushed the management of Shanghai to its limits.

The city authorities had received praises for their effective anti-pandemic fight.

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