A general view of buildings in Lujiazui financial district across the Huangpu river in Shanghai, China. Reuters
China began its most extensive lockdown in two years on Monday to conduct mass testing and control a growing outbreak in Shanghai as questions are raised about the economic toll of the nation's "zero-COVID” strategy.
Shanghai launched a two-stage lockdown of its 26 million people, closing bridges and tunnels, and restricting highway traffic in a scramble to contain surging COVID-19 cases.
Blinken tries to calm allies ahead of possible Iran deal
Erdogan urges cease-fire in call with Putin
The snap lockdown, announced by Shanghai's city government on Sunday, will split the city in two roughly along the Huangpu River for nine days to allow for "staggered" testing. It is the biggest COVID-related disruption to hit the city.
Police officers keep watch at an entrance to a tunnel leading to the Pudong area in Shanghai. Reuters
The order marks a turnaround for the city government, which as late as Saturday denied that Shanghai would be locked down as it pursued a more piecemeal "slicing and gridding" approach to try to rein in infections.
Shanghai's Pudong financial district and nearby areas will be locked down from Monday to Friday as mass testing gets underway, the local government said. In the second phase of the lockdown, the vast downtown area west of the Huangpu River that divides the city will start its own five-day lockdown Friday.
Residents will be required to stay home and deliveries will be left at checkpoints to ensure there is no contact with the outside world. Offices and all businesses not considered essential will be closed and public transport suspended.
China began its largest lockdown in two years on Monday to control a growing outbreak in Shanghai. AP
Wu Fan, a member of Shanghai's expert COVID team, told a briefing recent mass testing had found "large scale" infections throughout the city, triggering the stronger response.
"Containing the large scale outbreak in our city is very important because once infected people are put under control, we have blocked transmission," she said, adding that testing would be carried out until all risks were eliminated.
A record 3,450 asymptomatic COVID cases were reported in Shanghai on Sunday, accounting for nearly 70% of the nationwide total, along with 50 symptomatic cases, the city government said.
Nationwide, there were 5,134 new asymptomatic and 1,219 symptomatic cases on Sunday,the health authority said in its regular bulletin.
Medical staff members walk in front of barriers of an area under lockdown in Shanghai, China. Reuters
Already, many communities within Shanghai have been locked down for the past week, with their housing compounds blocked off with blue and yellow plastic barriers and residents required to submit to multiple tests for COVID-19. Shanghai’s Disneyland theme park is among the businesses that closed earlier. Automaker Tesla is also suspending production at its Shanghai plant, according to media reports.
Panic-buying was reported on Sunday, with supermarket shelves cleared of food, beverages and household items. Additional barriers were being erected in neighborhoods Monday, with workers in hazmat suits staffing checkpoints.
Shanghai detected another 3,500 cases of infection on Sunday, though all but 50 were people who tested positive for the coronavirus but were not showing symptoms of COVID-19. While people who are asymptomatic can still infect others, China categorizes such cases separately from "confirmed cases” — those in people who are sick — leading to much lower totals in daily reports.
China's financial hub of Shanghai continued to report a spike in cases, with companies in the country struggling to maintain output amid stringent curbs.
That compared with 5,656 new asymptomatic cases and 326 new cases with symptoms reported a day earlier. Shanghai on Sunday announced a two-stage lockdown of the city of 26 million people to carry out COVID-19 testing.
Most will be stuck indoors again until midnight, as they have been for the past two months under a ruthlessly enforced lockdown that has caused income losses, stress and despair to millions struggling to access food or get emergency healthcare.
The Saudi government picked up the multimillion-dollar tab for its two astronauts: Rayyanah Barnawi, a stem cell researcher who became the first Saudi woman in space; and fighter pilot Ali Al Qarni.
The draft law also proposes the formation of a committee to examine and classify non-Muslim religious activities, rites, and customs in the country.
The guidance discusses the risks of dealing with virtual assets (VA) and virtual asset service providers (VASP) and sets out clear descriptions of VAs, VASPs and VASP business models.