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Covid in China: Beijing works from home, Shanghai aims to defeat virus by May

By Livemint
Covid outbreak in China: A worker wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) sprays disinfectant next to people lining up to get tested at a makeshift nucleic acid testing site. (REUTERS)

"I'm not so worried. In fact, recently we've already all been working from home anyway," said finance sector worker Leo Luo to Reuters news agency. "I feel it's not much different from how it's been lately, just that it may be a little more extensive," he added.

Chinese officials have continued to ban dine-in services at restaurants, closed some malls, entertainment, and tourist venues, suspended sections of the bus, subway, and taxi systems, and imposed lockdowns on some residential buildings.

Besides, China said it would "strictly limit" unnecessary foreign travel by its citizens.

Most international flights to and from China have been cancelled over the past two years, and the latest announcement by immigration authorities was the clearest sign yet that travel was not going to resume any time soon.

Chinese tourists and students had been a significant source of income for many economies around the world before Covid pandemic emerged in the city of Wuhan in late 2019.

China has firmly rejected criticism of its uncompromising "zero COVID" policy, saying saving lives is worth the huge short-term costs it incurs, and that activity would gradually resume once outbreaks are eradicated.

Officials in Shanghai, which has endured six weeks of an almost complete lockdown, said economic activity was gradually resuming, with many factories operating in "closed loop" systems, with workers living on site.

More than 9,000 large-scale enterprises in Shanghai were now operating at close to 50% capacity, officials said.

Some economists expect China's economic growth to slow sharply in the second quarter, or even shrink, endangering the target for growth for the year of about 5.5%.

China's Covid-19 cases

As per the country's data, Beijing's daily Covid caseload remained in the dozens, a fraction of Shanghai's more than 2,000. But almost all of Shanghai's cases were in areas already under the tightest controls.

Last week, some of Shanghai's residents were allowed outside their housing compounds for brief walks and grocery shopping but the city has in recent days been tightening curbs in a push to eradicate the virus this month.

More and more areas have entered what authorities call "silent management mode", which typically means boards or fences around buildings, no deliveries and residents once again stuck indoors.

Once "zero COVID" is achieved at the community level, the city would start to steadily ease traffic restrictions and open shops, an official said.

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