SHANGHAI (REUTERS) – Authorities in China’s financial centre of Shanghai said they would start lifting lockdown in some areas from Monday (April 11), despite reporting more than 25,000 new Covid-19 infections, as they strive to get the city moving again after more than two weeks.
Shanghai has classed residential units into three risk categories, to allow those in areas without positive cases for a stretch of two weeks to engage in “appropriate activity” in their neighbourhoods, city official Gu Honghui said.
“Each district will announce the specific names of the first batch (of communities) divided into the three types, and three subsequent lists will be announced in a timely manner,” he told a news briefing.
That promises relief for some of the city’s 25 million residents, many of whom struggled to find food and medicine after more than three weeks locked down in the battle on China’s biggest outbreak since Coronavirus was first discovered in central Wuhan in late 2019.
Mr Gu said Shanghai had divided the city into 7,624 areas that are still sealed off, a group of 2,460 now subject to “controls”after a week of no new infections, and 7,565 “prevention areas” that will be opened up after two weeks without a positive case.
Those living in “prevention areas”, though able to move around their neighbourhoods, must observe social distancing and could find themselves sealed off again if there are new infections, he said.
Shanghai would make “dynamic” adjustments to the new system, Mr Gu added, vowing greater efforts to minimise the impact of curbs on ordinary people in China’s most populous city.
“We also hope all citizens and friends will continue to support and cooperate,” he said.
Some criticised the move as a big risk at a time when Shanghai’s caseload exceeds 25,000, however.
“I think the Shanghai government has a secret plan to infect the whole of the Chinese people,” said one poster on the Weibo platform, using the name “The Star Broke the Ice”.
Others said authorities had no choice.
“I think this is the Shanghai government admitting it cannot continue locking down while ensuring that its citizens don’t starve to death,” said another Weibo user, posting under the name Ruan Yi.
China’s strategy remains unchanged, however, with national health official Liang Wannian saying the “dynamic clearance” policy was still Shanghai’s “best option”.