Residents of Beijing and Shanghai return to work as China limps to live with COVID

Residents of Beijing and Shanghai return to work as China limps to live with COVID
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  • Life returns to normal in Shanghai and Beijing
  • Cities across China report large numbers of infections
  • China reports no COVID deaths for sixth consecutive day

BEIJING/SHANGHAI, Dec 26 (Reuters) – Mask-wearing commuters from Beijing and Shanghai filled subway trains on Monday, with China’s two biggest cities edging ever closer to living with COVID-19 as millions have been infected with the largely uncontrolled virus across the country. . .

After three years of ruthless coronavirus restrictions, President Xi Jinping this month scrapped the country’s relentless zero-COVID testing and lockdown policy in the face of protests and a widening outbreak.

Health experts and residents fear that China’s statistics, which show no new COVID deaths reported for the six days to Sunday, do not reflect the actual number of deathsand that the country’s fragile health system is being overwhelmed.

After the initial shock of the policy U-turn, and a few weeks in which people in Beijing and Shanghai stayed home, dealing with illness or trying to avoid it, there are signs that life is on its way back. back to normal.

Subway trains in Beijing and Shanghai were packed, while some of the main traffic arteries in the two cities were clogged with slow-moving carriages on Monday as residents headed to work.

“I am prepared to live with the pandemic,” said Lin Zixin, a 25-year-old Shanghai resident. “Lockdowns are not a long-term solution

This year, in an effort to prevent infections from spiraling out of control across the country, China’s 25 million mall residents endured two months of bitter isolation under a strict lockdown that lasted until June 1.

The bustling streets of Shanghai were in stark contrast to the atmosphere of April and May, when hardly anyone could be seen outside.

An annual Christmas market held on the Bund, a commercial area in Shanghai, was popular with the city’s residents over the weekend. Crowds packed into the festive winter season at Shanghai Disneyland and Beijing’s Universal Studios on Sunday, lining up for attractions in Christmas-themed attire.

The number of trips to scenic spots in the southern city of Guangzhou this weekend increased by 132% from last weekend, local newspaper The 21st Century Business Herald reported.

“Now basically everyone is back to normal routine,” said Han, a 29-year-old Beijing resident. “The tense atmosphere has passed.”

China is the latest major country to move towards treating COVID as endemic. His containment measures had slowed the $17 trillion economy to its lowest growth rate in nearly half a century, disrupting supply chains and global trade.

The world’s second-biggest economy is expected to suffer even more in the near term, as the wave of COVID spreads into manufacturing areas and a sickening workforce, before recovering next year, analysts say.

tesla suspended production at its Shanghai plant on Saturday, ahead of a plan to halt most work at the plant in the last week of December. The company did not give a reason.


The world’s most populous country has reduced its definition for classifying deaths as COVID-related, counting only those involving pneumonia or respiratory failure caused by COVID, shocking global health experts.

The country’s health care system has been under enormous strain, with staff being asked to work while sick and retired medical workers in rural communities are rehired to help, according to state media.

The provincial government of Zhejiang, a large industrial province near Shanghai with a population of 65.4 million, said on Sunday it was fighting around a million new COVID-19 infections a day, a number expected to double. in the coming days.

Health authorities in the southeastern province of Jiangxi have said infections will peak in early January, adding that there could be further spikes as people travel next month for Lunar New Year celebrations, state media reported. .

They warned that the wave of infections would last three months and that about 80% of the 45 million inhabitants of the province could be infected.

The city of Qingdao, in the eastern province of Shandong, has estimated that up to 530,000 residents are infected every day.

Cities across China have rushed to add intensive care units and fever clinics, facilities designed to prevent the further spread of contagious diseases in hospitals.

The Beijing municipal government has said the number of fever clinics in the city has increased from 94 to nearly 1,300, state media said. Shanghai has 2,600 such clinics and has transferred doctors from less-pressured medical departments to help.

Concerns remain about the ability of China’s less prosperous cities to cope with a surge in serious infections, especially as hundreds of millions of rural migrant workers are expected to return to their families for the Lunar New Year.

“I am worried that the flow of people will be huge… (and) the epidemic will break out again,” said Lin, a Shanghai resident.

Reports from the Beijing and Shanghai offices; Written by Marius Zaharia. Edited by Gerry Doyle

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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