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China steps up anti-COVID measures in megacities as infections rise

China steps up anti-COVID measures in megacities as infections rise
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  • China reports 2,089 new local cases for October 1. 10
  • Shanghai is stepping up routine testing for its 25 million residents
  • China warns of dangers of large-scale recovery

BEIJING, Oct. 11 (Reuters) – Shanghai and other major Chinese cities including Shenzhen have stepped up testing for COVID-19 as infections rise, with some local authorities hastily closing schools, entertainment venues and tourist attractions.

Infections have risen to their highest level since August, with the spike following increased domestic travel during the “Golden Week” celebration of National Day earlier this month.

Authorities reported 2,089 new local infections as of October 10. 10, most since 8/20.

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While many of the cases have been found in tourist destinations, including scenic spots in the northern region of Inner Mongolia, megacities that are often the source of well-travelled tourists have started reporting more cases this week.

Shanghai, a city of 25 million people, reported 28 local cases as of October 14. 10, the fourth day of double-digit gains.

To avoid a repeat of the economically and psychologically devastating April-May lockdown, Shanghai said late Monday all 16 districts should conduct mass testing at least twice a week through November. 10, an increase from once a week under a regime imposed after the last lockdown.

Checks on travelers and at places like hotels should also be stepped up, authorities said.

The expanding web of measures has already ensnared some.

Peter Lee, a longtime British expatriate, was at lunch with his wife and seven-year-old son last week when he was told his block of flats was to close.

Lee and his son then checked into a hotel that was soon also closed due to a previous visit by a virus carrier. Lee’s wife, who planned to join them, had no choice but to return home to be locked up.

“It could be that we say we miss home and we miss our mother too much and maybe we’ll just go home and just take care of it,” Lee told Reuters.

“We’re monitoring the situation because it looks like Shanghai is beginning to shut down anyway, and when everything starts to shut down there won’t be much use in being able to come and go.”

“FINAL PRICE”

According to Nomura, 36 Chinese cities were under varying degrees of lockdown or control as of Monday, affecting some 196.9 million people, up from 179.7 million the previous week.

In China’s southern tech hub of Shenzhen, where the highly transmissible BF.7 omicron subvariant has emerged, local cases more than tripled to 33 as of October 27. 10 from a day before.

Incoming travelers will be subjected to three tests over three days, authorities in the city of 18 million said on Tuesday.

In the northwestern city of Xian, which had reported just over 100 cases as of October 14. 1-10, authorities halted offline teaching in schools and closed many public spaces, including the famous Terracotta Warriors Museum.

Daily shuttle buses that bring tens of thousands of people from nearby Tianjin and Hebei to work in Beijing will be suspended from Wednesday due to the COVID resurgence.

Despite China’s very low caseload compared to the rest of the world and the toll its policies to fight the epidemic are taking on the economy and population, the government has repeatedly urged people to accept the measures.

“Once there is a large-scale recovery, the epidemic will spread and inevitably have serious effects on economic and social development, and the final price will be higher and losses will be larger,” the state-controlled People’s Daily wrote in a comment on Tuesday.

The COVID prevention moves come days ahead of a Communist Party convention that begins Oct. 27. 16, where Xi Jinping is expected to extend his lead. Continue reading

“The recent resurgence of draconian COVID-19 restrictions is likely to be temporary as the priority is to keep things under control ahead of the all-important meeting,” said analysts at U.S.-based alternative asset management firm Clocktower group.

“However, People’s Daily’s tripling of the zero-COVID-19 narrative is indeed a major issue, suggesting a major policy recalibration may be a long way off.”

(This story has been refiled to restore the omitted word in paragraph 6.)

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Reporting by Ryan Woo, Casey Hall and Jason Xue; Edited by Raju Gopalakrishnan

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Policy.

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