Shanghai yesterday reported no new cases of COVID-19 outside quarantined areas in two districts, raising hopes that the tide was turning in its battle against the epidemic, with some factories across the city making a gradual return to work.
In an event highly publicized on state media, electric vehicle company Tesla Inc resumed production at its Shanghai plant on Tuesday after a stoppage of more than three weeks.
The US automaker was on a list of 666 firms announced by the Chinese government last week that would be given priority to reopen or keep their operations running in Shanghai.
Stringent lockdown measures enforced after the outbreak began early last month have left the city’s 25 million people struggling with loss of income, irregular food supplies, separation of families and poor quarantine conditions.
Shanghai health official Wu Qianyu yesterday gave them an encouraging situation report during a daily news conference.
“The city’s epidemic situation in recent days has shown a downward trend,” Wu said. “Community spread has been effectively curbed.”
While 16.3 million people are still not allowed to leave their apartments or housing compounds, 7.85 million can return to factories or walk outside — an increase of 2 million from last week, she said.
However, some people subject to looser movement restrictions say that they still need permission from neighborhood officials to go out and have been unable to obtain it.
Authorities have ramped up daily testing of residents this week, as well as transfers of positive cases and their close contacts to quarantine centers outside Shanghai.
People have shared stories on social media of busloads of residents taken from home and sent into quarantine, including babies and elderly people.
Shanghai reported 16,407 new local asymptomatic COVID-19 cases for Tuesday, down from 17,332 on Monday. Symptomatic cases fell to 2,494 from 3,084.
City authorities said that seven people infected with COVID-19 died on Tuesday.
Shanghai has reported 17 deaths since the latest outbreak began, all in the past three days.
However, several people have reported family members dying after contracting COVID-19 since early last month, but the cases had not been included in official statistics, raising doubts over their accuracy.
The Shanghai government did not immediately respond to questions regarding the death toll.
Sources told reporters that Shanghai aimed to stop the spread of COVID-19 outside quarantined areas by yesterday.
There were 390 new cases outside quarantined areas on Tuesday, down from 550 on Monday.
Two of the city’s 16 districts, Jinshan and Chongming, reported no new cases outside quarantined areas, while the case numbers reported in seven other districts were in the single digits.
Other cities that have been under lockdown began easing curbs once they halted transmission outside quarantined areas.
A key priority once life outside resumes in Shanghai is to boost lagging vaccination rates among elderly people, health officials said.
Only 62 percent of residents over the age of 60 had been fully vaccinated, with 38 percent having taken a booster.
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