“We haven’t locked down the city and we don’t have to now,” Shanghai Deputy Secretary-General Gu Honghui promised at a press briefing on Tuesday.
Resisting a citywide lockdown, Shanghai will instead designate several key areas based on regional risk levels and conduct nucleic acid testing block by block.
“These measures are expected to help achieve the dynamic goal of ‘zero-COVID-19’ at the social level soon and allow citizens to return to normal life,” Gu said.
The announcement comes despite a spike in the number of COVID-19 cases. As of Tuesday, Shanghai had reported a total of 94 locally transmitted cases and 861 asymptomatic local cases since the resurgence of the epidemic on March 1.
Coming from the Huating Hotel & Towers in Xujiahui, one of the quarantine hotels designated for incoming travelers, the cases are infected with the Omicron BA.2 subvariant. The strain is both highly infectious and milder (so 90% of patients are asymptomatic), making it harder to detect.
The city is at a critical stage to curb the spread of the virus, Gu said, with the large number of infections straining the city’s quarantine facilities and medical resources.
Several measures have been put in place to combat the spread of the disease.
Outside of key areas, companies have been encouraged to stagger their working hours and allow employees to work from home to reduce mobility.
Starting Saturday, March 12, people wishing to leave or enter Shanghai must have a negative nucleic acid test report within 48 hours.
The Shanghai government has also asked residents not to leave the city unless absolutely necessary. Shanghai Intercity Bus Station suspended operations from Sunday, March 13.
READ MORE: You now need a nucleic acid test to enter or leave Shanghai
All primary and secondary schools in Shanghai have also been adapted for online learning. Children are not allowed to enter any educational establishment – including kindergartens and training centers as well as schools – and all offline education is prohibited.
READ MORE: COVID-19 forces schools in Shanghai to go online
The shift to online learning follows the decision to close a number of public cultural and tourist service locations across the city.
Of those attractions still open to the public, many now require a negative nucleic acid test report within 24 hours to enter, as well as a green health QR code, green travel history code and visitor card. Chinese identity or a valid travel document.
READ MORE: Shanghai closes public and tourist venues amid COVID-19 outbreak
Bars, restaurants and entertainment venues in some neighborhoods have also been told to close.
No timetable has been given on the duration of all the above measures; it remains dependent on the progress of the epidemic, with further announcements to be made to the public in due course depending on the situation.
[Cover image via NIAID-RML]