Shanghai officials on Tuesday said they had achieved “zero-covid at the community level” which appeared to be a turning point in a heavy-handed and costly campaign to control an Omicron outbreak – but many residents doubted the city would reopen any time soon.
“Zero-covid” at the community level means that transitions outside the centralized quarantine facility or surrounding area are no longer detected under strict lockdown – and this is a prerequisite for lifting these measures.
Zhao Dandan, deputy head of the Shanghai Municipal Health Commission, told a news conference on Tuesday that 16 districts in China’s financial center have now achieved that difference. But 860,000 people are still under severe lockdown, meaning they can’t leave their homes.
Since Chinese leader Xi Jinping pledged to tolerate his zero-quid policy on May 5, Shanghai authorities have taken increasingly stringent measures, cutting off food supplies in some neighborhoods, forcing residents to test negatively for quid in official quarantine and disinfecting their homes without consent.
However, although strict measures have provoked discontent among residents, they appear to have reduced the risk of infection. Shanghai reported less than 1,000 new cases on both Sunday and Monday – the first time in four figures since March 24, according to the city’s health commission.
The announcement comes a day after Shanghai pledged to slowly ease its cowardly lockdown and return to normal life in June, after seven weeks of government-imposed stagnation that has caused great pain to residents and wreaked havoc on the economy.
At a news conference Monday, Shanghai officials declared the outbreak “effectively under control” because it has stopped the spread of the Kovid community in 15 of the city’s 16 districts, with less than 1 million of its 25 million residents still under severe lockdown.
Officials say the city’s reopening work will come in three phases, aimed at restoring normal life and fully reopening the factories in June.
Deputy Mayor Jung said, “From June 1 to mid-June and in late June, in order to control the risk of infection rebound, we will prevent epidemics and control a normal routine and fully restore normal production and life in the city,” said Deputy Mayor Jung Ming.
Supermarkets, convenience stores and pharmacies reopened Monday, Jung said, adding that they would follow hair salons and wholesale agricultural markets.
Train services from Shanghai also gradually resumed on Monday, followed by domestic flights. From May 22, bus and subway services will resume According to Zong, passengers will need a negative covid test to board public transport – taken within 48 hours.
The roadmap for reopening was viewed with suspicion by some Shanghai residents who have lost confidence in the local government.
In March, Shanghai authorities repeatedly denied that the city would go into lockdown. Police have even arrested two people on charges of “spreading rumors” that such measures are imminent.
When the local government announced a two-stage lockdown in late March, it said it would last only four days and promised daily supplies would be sufficient. But the days turned into weeks, and many struggled to secure access to food and other daily necessities.
“You can fool me, but please don’t do it too many times,” said a user of Weibo platforms such as China’s Twitter in a widely circulated comment.
On Chinese social media, some Shanghai residents say they are still not allowed to go out, despite not knowing about any recent events around them. Others have expressed outrage at state media reports, claiming that life in the city is becoming normal.
Meanwhile, an article on the People’s Daily, the Communist Party’s mouthpiece website, included pictures to show the reopened restaurants, cafes and supermarkets.
“Even though I am not allowed to go out in Shanghai, I can feel the warmth from your fake news. Thanks to People’s Daily! ” One resident said in a social media post under a hashtag that loosely translated “the smell of cooking is returning to Shanghai”.
“Is that Shanghai in a parallel world?” Another user has been asked under the same hashtag.
The hashtag, which has been viewed 140 million times, seems to have caught the attention of China’s Internet censors; Only posts published from the official account under that hashtag will be seen by Tuesday afternoon.
Some Shanghai residents have even made sarcastic remarks on the official Weibo account of the “National Anti-Fraud Center”, an app launched by China’s Ministry of Public Security to fight phone scandals.
“Please go after the Shanghai government and let them shut up. They lie down with their eyes open every day, enough is enough, ”said a user in Shanghai.
Others kept their temper for the People’s Daily. “The People.cn is spreading rumors. The Shanghai described in their words is not the Shanghai where I live now, “said one user.
Most comments were deleted by Tuesday afternoon.