BEIJING (AP) — China began lockdown on most of its largest city, Shanghai, on Monday as part of its tough COVID-19 strategy, amid questions about the country’s economic strain from politics.
Shanghai’s Pudong financial district and nearby areas will go into lockdown Monday through Friday as citywide mass testing begins, the local government said. Then, in the second phase of the lockdown, Friday’s massive downtown west of the Huangpu River, which divides the city, begins its own five-day lockdown.
Residents are required to stay at home and deliveries are deposited at checkpoints to ensure no contact with the outside world. Offices and all shops not considered essential will be closed and public transport will be suspended.
Many communities in the city of 26 million have already been placed under lockdown and their residents are undergoing multiple tests for COVID-19. And Shanghai’s Disney theme park is among the businesses that closed earlier.
China has reported more than 56,000 infections nationwide this month, most of them stemming from a growing outbreak in northeastern Jilin province. Shanghai has had relatively few of those cases, with just 47 recorded as of Saturday.
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But in response to China’s largest outbreak in two years, Beijing has continued to enforce what it calls the “dynamic zero-COVID” approach, calling it the most economical and effective prevention strategy against COVID-19.
That requires lockdowns and mass testing, with close contacts often quarantined at home or at a central government facility. The strategy focuses on eradicating community transmission of the virus as quickly as possible, sometimes by locking down entire cities.
While officials, including Communist Party leader Xi Jinping, have encouraged more targeted measures, local officials are inclined to take a more extreme approach amid fears of being fired or otherwise punished over allegations of failing to prevent outbreaks.
While vaccination coverage in China is around 87%, it is significantly lower among the elderly.
National data released earlier this month showed that over 52 million people aged 60 and older have yet to be vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine. Booster vaccination rates are also low: only 56.4% of people aged 60-69 have received a booster shot, and 48.4% of people aged 70-79 have received one.
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