Shanghai let some of its 25 million residents venture out for light and air after reporting a second day of zero infections outside of quarantine areas.
While much of the city remains in lockdown, Shanghai officials, striking a confident tone, said yesterday that curbs on some areas would be eased after the city reined in COVID-19 transmission risks at the community level, excluding cases in quarantine centers.
Six Shanghai districts have basically achieved zero community transmission of COVID-19, and as a result residents will be allowed wider freedom.
The suburbs of Fengxian, Jinshan, Chongming, Qingpu and Songjiang along with downtown Putuo have reached the standard of “basic zero community transmission,” said Gu Honghui, deputy secretary general of the city government.
“The city’s pandemic situation is tending to a good prospect steadily and the risk of community transmission has been effectively curbed,” Gu told the city’s daily coronavirus press briefing.
The standard means less than one positive case is found in every 100,000 residents within the controlled and precautionary areas as well as among those who are out of the closed-loop management for three consecutive days.
If there is no positive case in these areas for three days, the district will be defined as “zero community transmission.”
“The city will enter the normalized COVID-19 prevention and control stage after all local districts achieve the primary goal,” Gu remarked.
Five towns in the Pudong New Area — Xuanqiao, Nicheng, Datuan, Wanxiang and Laogang — have also achieved the target of “basic zero community transmission.”
Residents within precautionary areas in these suburban districts are allowed to move around within the districts. They can go to reopened supermarkets, drugstores and hospitals. Public transport will be gradually restored, while private cars can drive in limited areas, Gu stated.
Residents in the precautionary areas in Putuo and the five towns in Pudong are allowed to move or drive around within their subdistricts or towns and go to designated supermarkets and drugstores.
In other downtown districts (namely Huangpu, Jing’an, Xuhui, Changning, Hongkou, Yangpu, Baoshan and Minhang) that have yet to achieve the goal, residents in the precautionary areas are only allowed to move within residential compounds.
A resident from each household will be allowed to shop at supermarkets or drugstores in batches for a limited time twice every week.
Suburban Jiading residents can move around within their subdistricts or towns and go to designated supermarkets and drugstores with limits on the number of households and time.
Residents must show their negative reports of either antigen self-testing made within a day or PCR test made within two days along with their health code to enter the markets and stores.
Social media posts showed the streets of Fengxian filled with pedestrians and choked with scooters and bicycles.
The regulations remain the same for those within locked-down and controlled areas. Residents should remain at home in locked-down areas, and are only allowed to pick up deliveries at the residential compounds in controlled areas.
More than 15 million locals are now in precautionary areas, or communities, villages, companies or sites without a positive case in the last two weeks.
The number of residents in locked-down areas has been reduced to some 3 million, while about 6 million are living within the controlled area, according to Gu.
Shanghai’s COVID-19 resurgence began trending downwards after the daily infection number reached its peak at 27,605 on April 13. The number has been below 10,000 for four consecutive days.
The Rt value, or effective reproduction number, of the pandemic has reduced to 0.67 from 2.27, meaning the pandemic has gradually waned, Gu said.
“We’ve achieved staged progress, but the fruits remain unstable,” Gu noted. “Resurgence might occur and all the efforts might be in vain, if we slack even a bit.”
He said the city’s daily infections remain at a high level; resurgences are happening in some old neighborhoods, largely companies and construction sites; the quarantine rooms remain in a tight supply, and the tasks to rescue patients in critical condition remain tough.
To consolidate the achievements, another round of PCR and antigen testing will be launched through May 7, Wu Jinglei, director of the Shanghai Health Commission, announced yesterday.
Residents in locked-down areas will receive a daily PCR test, while those in controlled areas will receive three PCR and four antigen tests. People living in precautionary areas will receive a single PCR and six antigen tests.
All COVID-19 infections on Saturday were found among those who were already under quarantine or control measures.
Apart from 683 confirmed patients who were previously asymptomatic, all the rest of the 7,189 confirmed and asymptomatic cases were found during “closed-loop quarantine and control” management, Wu revealed. No case was found during the “screening among risky groups.”
Wu explained the infections found in the “closed-loop quarantine and control” include those in central quarantine, home quarantine, locked-down areas, key venues with closed-loop management and among close contacts of confirmed cases.
The “screening among high-risk groups” covers people in controlled areas, precautionary areas, those who go to fever clinics themselves and those who complete PCR test themselves.
Meanwhile, Shanghai’s first city-level makeshift hospital renovated from three apartment buildings in Jiading closed on Saturday after the last batch of 13 COVID-19 patients was discharged.
The Jiahe Xinyuan makeshift hospital operated by Ruijin Hospital opened on March 24 with 1,900 beds. It received 3,182 patients aged between 37 days to 83 years during its 38-day operation.