Covid-19: Shanghai cases double in a day, fueling lockdown fears – Times of India

SHANGHAI: Shanghai reported the most virus infections since late May, as a doubling of cases fuels concerns China’s financial hub may find itself back in lockdown in pursuit of Covid Zero.
The city announced 54 local Covid infections for Wednesday, including two that were found outside of quarantine, with the latter raising concerns that the virus could be quietly spreading through communities. Shanghai has already increased its mass testing, with 10 districts and parts of two others — out of the financial hub’s total of 16 — conducting two PCR tests for all residents over a three-day period.
Elsewhere, Beijing announced four new cases after authorities said Wednesday they had detected the highly infectious BA.5.2 subvariant. The capital is set to roll out China’s first ever vaccine mandate next week, limiting entry to a raft of entertainment and cultural venues to inoculated people, and requiring booster shots for several industries including medical workers.
The BA.5 subvariant has already emerged in China’s west, with the city of Xi’an reporting the country’s first domestic spread this week. Authorities have instituted sweeping restrictions, but have stopped short of confining its 13 million residents to their homes. Shanghai said its flareup is linked to an earlier omicron subvariant.
The latest test for China’s Covid Zero policy comes soon after earlier outbreaks were brought under control, which required a brutal two-month lockdown of Shanghai that took an enormous economic and social toll. While authorities are yet to bring back strict lockdowns in major cities, President Xi Jinping has reaffirmed the country will stick to Covid Zero, saying that China would rather endure some temporary impact on economic development than let the virus hurt people’s safety and health.
Beijing’s vaccine mandate — while China’s first foray into a vaccine-boosting strategy other countries took over a year ago — remained a cautious effort to avoid strong backlash from residents as the regulation won’t apply to schools, hospitals and restaurants. Still, many took to social media to complain about the move and cited a 2021 statement from the National Health Commission, China’s top health regulator, saying Covid vaccination cannot be forced and must be voluntary.
Nationwide, there were 338 infections for Wednesday, with most coming from a small county in the eastern province of Anhui that’s already locked down. Cases have also popped up in nearby areas, including the logistics hub of Xuzhou, though officials have yet to establish if the clusters are linked.
Wuxi, a biotech and solar manufacturing hub, reported some 30 infections for Wednesday. The city has closed entertainment venues and suspended dine-in services and is requiring delivery workers to take three Covid test a day, comprised of one PCR and two rapid antigen tests.

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