Shanghai tweaks lockdown rules amid COVID-19 surge

Shanghai has eased a punishing citywide lockdown that it imposed to break a surge in cases that is the biggest test of China’s two-year strategy to stamp out the disease wherever it appears.

Authorities in Shanghai introduced the three-tier disease control system on Monday, allowing residents in areas where no cases have been reported for 14 days to leave their homes so long as they follow health protocols and remain in their sub-district.

Those living in areas where no cases have been confirmed for seven days are allowed to collect food deliveries or take a walk at a designated time and location.

City health official Wu Qianyu emphasised the need for continued controls at a press briefing.

“After a long period of lockdown, it is understandable that people want to go out and get some air, and they need to go shopping for food and medicine and go for medical treatment,” she said. “But if lots of people gather in a disorderly way, it will cause hidden dangers to our epidemic prevention work.”

Of the city’s 17,600 communities, however, some 7,624 remain in the strictest lockdown designation and people there are required to stay at home.

A young girl in a pink puffer jacket sits on her bed as hazmat suited officials inspect a mass quarantine centre in Shanghai, China.
People found to have COVID-19 under China’s mass testing regime are sent to centralised quarantine facilities [China Daily via Reuters]
Gu Honghui, deputy secretary-general of the Shanghai municipal government, said the zoning would be updated regularly based on the situation in each community.

“Our principle, as always, is to strive to minimise the impact of the epidemic on residents’ daily lives,” Gu told the daily briefing on the city’s epidemic control situation.

The Shanghai outbreak is the most severe since the initial surge in cases in Wuhan that triggered the global pandemic, and is proving to be a considerable test of China’s ‘zero COVID’ strategy, which relies on mass testing, quarantine and draconian lockdowns to stamp out the virus.