Shanghai, the largest city in China, has been under yet another intense lockdown in recent weeks after numerous local outbreaks of COVID-19, specifically the Omicron variant. The city and China as a whole have been experiencing record numbers of COVID-19 infections, though their numbers are significantly lower than other countries, such as the US, mainly due to very strict lockdown and virus mitigation measures that have been implemented throughout the past few years of the pandemic.
Shanghai reported 25,000 new cases of COVID-19 on April 11, and in recent weeks public health officials have struggled to keep up with the number of new infections. The intense lockdowns are a direct result of China’s “zero COVID” strategy of trying to eliminate COVID-19 as a whole. Up until recently, China’s strategy has been very successful, with far fewer infections and deaths than similar nations. However, the highly contagious Omicron variant is testing this strategy, with the virus slipping past even the most diligent mitigation measures. Although nearly 90% of the population has been vaccinated against the virus, there is still concern about overstrain of the healthcare system if more people are infected.
Since Shanghai is such a global hub for economics, trade and travel, there has been immense pressure to get the city back up and running at full capacity. The stall of economic activity has added to the overwhelming global supply chain backups. Additionally, people in Shanghai have been struggling to get food and basic necessities with shortages amongst the lockdowns. With lockdowns, the government has been initiating food deliveries, but this has been more complicated with Omicron spreading, leading to shortages and delays. There has also been outcry over some children who have been testing positive for COVID-19 being separated from their parents who test negative for COVID-19 isolation centers. Currently, residents who test positive have to go to isolation centers and are unable to isolate at home, according to the BBC. Mass testing has been implemented multiple times throughout the city.
Authorities also announced on April 11 plans to roll back some of the restrictions. This includes allowing neighborhoods with no new recorded cases of COVID-19 within the past two weeks to open for certain activities. Also announced were plans to group certain areas into three different risk levels with different activities allotted for each level, according to Reuters.
Although the CDC lists at Level 1 with low risk of contracting COVID-19, the CDC still recommends following all rules and restrictions within China, which is still very strict. It is also highly recommended that people who may travel to China are vaccinated to the fullest extent possible.