Shanghai, China, Dec 24 (EFE).- Authorities in Shanghai, China’s largest city, on Saturday urged citizens to show restraint with Christmas weekend festivities amid a rapid spread of Covid-19 after the government eased its strict tolerance policies.
“Do not go out at the weekend unless necessary, hit the pause button on social meetings and be the first person responsible for your own health,” Shanghai’s local health department said in a campaign published by the local news outlet The Paper.
It directed its message particularly toward young people, urging them to forgo nights out at the weekend and especially to avoid closed off space with poor ventilation, adding that winter temperatures facilitate the spread of infectious diseases.
While Christmas is not normally celebrated in China, it is common to see decorations in public places such as shopping malls, which use the occasion to bring in more customers and boost sales.
Shanghai, however, is one of the most multicultural cities in China with a substantial expatriate population and holds traditional Christmas markets, including one of German inspiration that has been operating with limited capacity each year since the pandemic began.
In recent weeks, Chinese authorities have been dismantling many of the draconian Covid-19 measures stipulated by the zero Covid policy embraced by the government to handle the pandemic.
This includes the need for citizens to take routine PCR tests in order to access public spaces, meaning the detection of cases has dropped. Added to this is the decision by officials to no longer count asymptomatic or mild infections.
According to the official count, there were 4,000 new Covid-19 infections on Saturday but the real number could be as high as 37 million this week, Bloomberg reported.
There are also doubts around the official death toll offered by Chinese authorities, who do not register patients with underlying diseases.
World Health Organization chief Tedros Ghebreyesus this week said the organization was “very concerned over the evolving situation in China, with increasing reports of severe disease.”
“In order to make a comprehensive risk assessment of the situation on the ground, WHO needs more detailed information on disease severity, hospital admissions and requirements for ICU support.”