While Shanghai Residents May Be Seeing Respite on the Horizon, Beijing Is Eying a COVID Lockdown

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    Shanghai's municipal government on April 27 “decided to take what epidemiologists said was ‘a major step toward lifting the lockdown' to ease restrictions in areas where COVID-19 infections were stamped outside the quarantined areas,” the state-run Global Times reported.

    Shanghai's new daily cases of the disease decreased steadily over the last week, as per the paper, which reported that in the official statistics released Wednesday, April 27, Shanghai reported a 20.1-percent decrease in COVID-19 cases in the previous 24 hours, with the number of confirmed cases at 1,606 and 11,956 non-infected carriers, making it the fourth consecutive day of declining numbers.

    Zhao Dandan, a deputy director of the Shanghai Municipal Health Commission, announced at Wednesday's press conference that 51 million tests had been carried out in the last five days, and that the percentage of positive cases was slowly decreasing. The areas that are declared to have been able to eliminate virus infections and are not in quarantine zones could see a relaxation of restrictions and other control measures.

    While Shanghai seems to be headed towards an end to its complete lockdown, which has been in effect from April 5 to the present, a different report published by The Global Times on April 28 indicated that Chinese Communist Party (CCP) authorities might shortly issue a nationwide lockdown on Beijing to stop the local coronavirus epidemic. The report revealed that some areas in Beijing were already under restricted lockdowns at the time of writing on Thursday. The Communist Party's official newspaper identified the residential areas that were affected using the terms “temporary control zones.”

    The Global Times described conditions at these facilities on April 28. To limit the spread of the virus as well as ensure people's health and safety, the zones of temporary control have been adjusted dynamically in accordance with the assessments of the epidemiological control and prevention team. The two new areas encompass a variety of residential areas as well as one of Beijing's most important markets for construction materials.

    Residents who reside in the temporary control zone are not permitted to exit the area, and those living in the community must strictly follow preventative and control measures, such as scan codes, temperature checks and registration. Residents are not permitted to leave the community, even if it is necessary.

    Beijing's most recent outbreak of the coronavirus started around the middle of April. The nation’s capital city, home to an estimated population in the range of 21.3 million, has registered 142 cases of the virus since April 22, as per The Global Times report on April 28. “On Wednesday [April 27] alone, 48 new local confirmed [symptomatic] cases and two asymptomatic cases were reported in the whole of Beijing,” the paper reported.

    Shanghai's most recent outbreak of the coronavirus started in the early part of March. Shanghai, a city of 26 million inhabitants and China's largest city with the highest population density, began a massive screening program for the virus on March 28. The program forced one-half of Shanghai to shut down for five days during an interval from March 28 through April 5. Just hours before the lockdown was due to end on April 5, the Shanghai administration shocked the city's population by announcing that the whole city was to adhere to indefinite stay-at-home orders. The lockdown order that shocked the city is still in force until now.

    Beijing's enforcement of “temporary control zones” in recent days comes in the wake of the city's government's announcement of mass Chinese coronavirus-testing plans for more than 20 million people beginning in April.

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