Shanghai reports more Covid deaths as factories push to reopen

Shanghai reported another seven Covid-19 deaths as the financial hub grapples with a record outbreak that has brought unprecedented disruption to residents and threatened the country’s economic growth.

The people who died ranged in age from 60 to 101 and had serious underlying health conditions, and are followed by three deaths announced Monday.

Shanghai reported 20,416 new infections, down from a recent peak but still elevated as the coronavirus continues to spread in the city.

Shanghai’s reporting of its first deaths comes over a month after its outbreak and as debate mounts over its official death toll, which is strikingly lower than countries with higher vaccination rates.

The city’s 25 million residents have been in lockdown for weeks, and many are struggling to get food, basic needs and healthcare. While the rest of the world has focused on living with the virus, China is sticking to Covid Zero despite concerns about the growing social and economic toll.

China’s top health official stressed Monday that the country will continue to pursue its zero-tolerance approach.

If the country relaxed its controls, a large number of people with underlying diseases, as well as the elderly and children would be threatened, severely affecting the stable development of the economy and society, said Ma Xiaowei, head of the National Health Commission, writing in a state-run statement Media published articles.

China is deploying rapid lockdowns and mass testing to try to contain its biggest outbreak in two years.

Over the weekend, the western city of Xi’an went into partial lockdown for four days after the city of 13 million found more than 40 infections. The city had lifted a strict month-long lockdown in late January after reaching Covid Zero.

Tangshan Steel Center has reinstated a five-county lockdown, just over a week since it lifted a city-wide lockdown.

The city of Kunshan, home to a number of technology manufacturing plants, continues to face strict preventive measures that have disrupted the semiconductor chip supply chain.

The northeastern province of Jilin, home to around 24 million people, is slowly recovering from a month-long lockdown after authorities said they had curbed the spread of the community. While restrictions are still in place in some cities, measures have been relaxed in the capital Changchun, allowing Volkswagen to gradually resume production at its plants.

Residents in Shanghai’s most restricted areas need daily Covid testing to achieve zero community spread as soon as possible, said Hu Xiaobo, director of the city’s clinical testing center, at a briefing on Tuesday.

Tests will also be conducted in other parts that face less severe curbs, he said.

Though there’s no end in sight as to when Shanghai will lift its lockdown, the city has released plans for work to resume – albeit without a timeline – including requiring companies to use closed-loop management, with workers on site live and be tested regularly.

Tesla has restarted production at its factory in the city using a closed system that requires workers to sleep on the floor, Bloomberg News reported.

The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has already dispatched a team to Shanghai to ensure stable production at key firms and is urging production in key industries to resume. China is facing mounting industrial pressures and the sector’s recovery remains unbalanced, spokesman Luo Junjie said at a briefing on Tuesday.

The fallout from the latest round of lockdowns highlights the challenges officials face in implementing President Xi Jinping’s dual goals of continuing to strive for elimination of the virus while minimizing the economic and social impact of the Covid-Zero strategy.

The government is also facing one of the strongest anti-government criticisms in years from a public increasingly weary of harsh virus measures.

Wu Zunyou, a virus expert at the China Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said Monday that many people have lost confidence in the current “dynamic Covid Zero” strategy.

“Dynamic Covid Zero does not mean aiming for zero infections, but eradicating every outbreak within a short period of time,” Wu wrote on Weibo. “Many said that dynamic zero would affect the economy, but in fact only dynamic zero can safely guard economic development to the greatest possible extent.” Shanghai reports more Covid deaths as factories push to reopen

Fry Electronics Team

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