Nearly 9,000 nucleic acid sample collection sites have been set up across Shanghai to serve the increasing number of employees returning to work as the city’s pandemic gradually wanes.

More than half of the polymerase chain reaction testing sites have opened mainly for workers maintaining urban services, companies resuming operations and citizens in precautionary areas, according to the city’s reform and development commission.

Citizens can check their nearest PCR sample collection sites on the Suishenban app and WeChat app, along with information such as how many people are waiting, said Chen Shiyan, deputy director of the commission.

Over 70 percent of Shanghai’s 1,800-plus key companies have resumed operations, said Zhang Hongtao, chief engineer of the Shanghai Commission of Economy and Informatization.

Over 90 percent of the first batch of some 660 key firms, especially in the automotive, integrated circuit and biomedicine sectors, have maintained stable production, he told the city’s daily COVID-19 press briefing.

Zhang noted that some subdistricts, towns or industrial parks have been found to be stepping up the standards in the name of COVID-19 prevention and control.

He asked them to follow the unified standard of the city government. “It is unnecessary and shouldn’t set additional barriers for companies who want to restore operations.”

Shanghai has released an updated work resumption guideline, which stipulates all returning personnel and new hires have to take two tests daily — an antigen test in the morning and a nucleic acid test in the afternoon.

Companies in locked-down areas should organize all staff to take two tests each day, including an antigen test in the morning and a nucleic acid test in the afternoon.

Those in controlled areas should arrange an antigen test each day and a nucleic acid test every two days, while those in precautionary areas should have an antigen test each day and a nucleic acid test within five days.

Companies are asked to categorize their production areas in four tiers, according to the risk level, in the colors of green (protection zone), blue (observation zone), yellow (quarantine zone) and red (infection zone).

Meanwhile, a medical rescue team of 500 experts has been set up to reduce the severe symptoms and deaths, mainly among seniors in critical condition, from COVID-19 infections.

Of COVID-19 patients in local designated and makeshift hospitals, 512 have severe symptoms and 99 are in critical condition. Most of them are seniors with severe underlying diseases, Zhao Dandan, deputy director of the Shanghai Health Commission, revealed.

“The key principles are to treat both the coronavirus and underlying diseases with both Western and traditional Chinese medicines, to prevent people with mild symptoms turning severe.”

The city reported 13 more COVID-19 deaths on Wednesday — three fewer than Tuesday — with the casualties having an average age of 82.77 years. All had severe underlying conditions, and none had been vaccinated.

The expert rescue team includes over 500 specialists from various departments such as cardiovascular, endocrine, digestive, urinary, tumor, TCM, obstetrics, gynecology and pediatrics. Earlier, most of the experts had been drawn from infection, respiratory and severe symptoms departments.

Shanghai’s daily infection number declined by about 6 percent day on day to a total of 4,651 on Wednesday.

According to the results of PCR tests plus antigen screening, almost 16.47 million residents, or 65 percent of the local population, are in precautionary areas — communities, villages and businesses without a positive case in the last two weeks.

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