Shanghai/Beijing, May 16 (EFE).- Shanghai authorities expect life in the city to become fully normal before the end of June, after the city has been under a strict lockdown for three and a half months due to its worst Covid-19 outbreak since the pandemic began.
The city is expected to gradually resume normal activities during the period between June 1 and the middle or end of the month, vice mayor Zong Ming said in a press conference, covered by state daily Global Times.
This would be the last of the three stages of the city’s pandemic management program over the next few weeks, with the first set to last until May 21 and aimed at preventing a rise in the number of cases while reducing the population under lockdown with “limited movement,” “effective control” and low levels of social activity.
In the next phase, between May 22-31, the transition towards normalcy is set to kick off, gradually ending the current lockdown measures based on the classification of low, medium or high risk areas.
Public transport would also be resumed gradually during this period.
Shanghai on Monday reported 958 fresh infections – 91 percent of them asymptomatic – with the figure dropping below 1,000 for the first time since Mar. 26, and being significantly lower than the peak daily caseload of 28,000 reported in early April.
The city has registered over 57,000 symptomatic cases and 575 deaths.
Nearly 4,100 patients remain hospitalized, including 261 in a serious condition and 65 classified as critical.
Zong said that 15 of Shanghai’s 16 districts have already achieved “zero social transmission,” a term which refers to less than one case being reported per 100,000 residents for three days in a row.
The “controlled” areas of the city allow residents to move between the common areas, while those labeled “precaution” allow locals to move outside their housing blocks but do not let them exit their zone.
In recent weeks, despite authorities claiming that most of the over 25 million city residents were now under precaution zones, many people were unable to leave their housing blocks due to decisions by neighborhood committies.
As cases dropped, on Friday the local government announced that it expected to curb Covid transmission outside isolated areas and quarantine centers by the middle of the month, without announcing a specific date.
Meanwhile, restrictions continued in Beijing due to a small but incessant trickle of cases – including 39 on Monday – which has led to targeted lockdowns being imposed in several areas, closure of classroom teaching, shutdown of indoor public spaces and work-from-home recommendations.
The total number of infections since the current outbreak began on Apr. 22 has risen to 1,113.
The Chinese government has persisted with their zero-Covid policy, which has been strictly implemented during the recent outbreaks driven by the Omicron variant, especially in Shanghai.
The harsh measures have resulted in criticism from various quarters, including the Beijing University, which is especially symbolic as the 1989 Tiananmen square protests started from the same institution.
Videos posted on Twitter showed a group of students gathering on Sunday night to protest against officials erecting barriers to isolate a residential block for university employees.
The students have expressed their discontent with lockdown measures, as they have been confined to their hostels in the campus, while those living outside are not allowed to enter the premises. EFE