COVID restrictions ease in Shanghai as case count drops

BEIJING (AP) — Shanghai is set to allow in-person dining and reopen its Disney Resort theme park as locally transmitted COVID-19 cases in China’s largest city remain at zero after a lockdown of more than two months.

Chinese authorities hail their uncompromising ‘zero-COVID’ policy to stem the rise in virus cases and deaths, despite the huge cost to China’s economy and international supply chains reliant on manufacturing and shipping capacity of China that have been skewed.

China has repeatedly defended the policy and indications are that it will maintain “zero-COVID” at least until the spring of 2023, when President Xi Jinping is expected to be installed for a third five-year term at the helm of the world’s second-largest economy and a growing competitor to the United States. states in the Indo-Pacific region.

In remarks by the official Xinhua news agency, Xi said on Wednesday that China’s anti-virus policy had “protected people’s lives and health to the greatest extent”.

Xi was speaking during a visit to the central city of Wuhan, where the virus was first detected in late 2019 before the outbreak of the pandemic that has killed more than 6.3 million people worldwide, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University in the United States. .

“Had China adopted the ‘herd immunity’ policy or a hands-off approach, given its large population, the country would have faced catastrophic consequences,” Xi quoted Xinhua as saying.

“Even if there are temporary impacts on the economy, we will not put people’s lives and health at risk, and we must protect the elderly and children in particular,” Xi said, according to Xinhua.

Having associated himself so closely with “zero-COVID”, any pushback by Xi would be seen as a political liability as he seeks to secure his increased control of domestic power and influence abroad.

China’s tough approach, which involves lockdowns on hundreds of millions, mass testing costing billions of dollars and quarantines disrupting thousands of lives “are the most economical and efficient”, Xi Jinping reported.

Xi also warned against “any tendency to let our guard down, become weary of the fight, or slack off on prevention and control efforts.”

Despite the eased restrictions, a negative test result on your cellphone is still required to enter most public spaces in Shanghai and other cities.

Shanghai resident Amber Liu said she had long hoped to leave the city for Chinese vacation destinations, such as the beaches of the tropical island of Sanya or the mountains and deserts of Yunnan, Tibet and North Korea. Xinjiang. Quarantine restrictions still made it difficult, if not impossible, she said.

“It’s kind of a tricky normalcy,” Liu said. “I think life is surreal now. I feel like there is still a long way to go before a full recovery. … Everyone is resigned to the situation.