Shanghai fingers crossed for reopening COVID
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Shanghai fingers crossed for reopening COVID

The Chinese metropolis of Shanghai pushed further towards a gradual reopening after two months of tightened COVID-19 lockdown, while the capital Beijing maintained curbs that have drastically curtailed movement even as the number of cases fell.

Shanghai fingers crossed for reopening COVID

Shanghai essentially wants to end the lockdown from Wednesday. Over the past week, more people have been allowed to leave their homes, and businesses have been allowed to reopen. However, most residents are largely confined to their residential complexes, and most shops are restricted to making deliveries.

Shanghai officials urged continued vigilance on Saturday, even as most of its 25 million residents live in areas with the lowest “prevention” risk category.

“Wear masks in public, avoid gatherings, and maintain social distancing,” Zhao Dandan, deputy director of the Shanghai Municipal Health Commission, told a daily news conference.

Videos on social media showed Friday night revelers, including many foreigners drinking and dancing in the city, interrupted by police ordering them to go home.

Another video showed a group on the street singing an emotional anthem called Tomorrow will be better. The police arrive and let the song end before asking them to go home, prompting online praise for showing restraint.

The two-month lockdown of China’s largest and most cosmopolitan city has left residents frustrated and outraged, hundreds of thousands of whom have been quarantined in often-crowded central facilities. Many residents struggled to access adequate food or medical care during the early weeks.

As the nationwide number of cases improves, China’s strict adherence to zero COVID has devastated the world’s second-largest economy and turned global supply chains upside down. †

The economic impact was clear from data released Friday showing industrial profits fell 8.5 percent in April, the fastest decline in two years, with high commodity prices and supply chain chaos caused by COVID-19 pushing margins below. Pressurizes and disrupts factories.

China’s approach, which Beijing says is necessary to save lives and prevent the health system from being overwhelmed, is being tested by the elusive Omicron variant. On the other hand, much of the world is trying to carry on with normal life despite the ongoing spread of the coronavirus.

The conflict between overcoming the spread of COVID and sustaining the economy is happening in a politically sensitive year, with Mr. Xi expected to win an unprecedented third term of leadership at a ruling Communist Party congress later this year.

At an emergency meeting on Wednesday, Prime Minister Li Keqiang acknowledged weak growth and said economic difficulties were worse than in 2020 after China was initially hit by COVID-19. His comments raised market expectations for further measures to support the economy.

On Friday, the Fengxian district in the suburbs of Shanghai canceled a requirement for residents to have a pass to go out.

The state-run Shanghai Securities News reported modest steps to return the financial sector to normal. The more than 10,000 bankers and traders who have lived and worked in their offices since the start of the lockdown gradually returning home.

China reported 362 daily coronavirus cases on Saturday, up from 444 a day earlier. In Beijing, much of which was under strict thresholds this month, new infections fell from 29 to 24 on Friday.