Shanghai officials permitted 4 million more people in China’s largest city to leave their homes, as COVID-19 quarantine rules ease.
A total of almost 12 million people in the city of 25 million are now permitted to go outdoors under the new rules, health official Wu Ganyu told reporters.
Wu said the virus was now “under effective control” in some parts of the city.
With the changes, more than 4 million people are included in areas where the status changed from “closed” to “controlled,” Wu said. He said that some people remain unable to leave their neighborhoods and that large gatherings are banned.
China’s case numbers in the latest increase are lower than they have been in the past. But the ruling Communist Party is enforcing a “zero-COVID” policy that has shut down major cities to isolate every case.
On Wednesday, the government reported 19,927 new cases in China’s mainland. Only 2,761 of the infected people showed signs of sickness. Ninety-five percent of the cases came from Shanghai.
The Shanghai city health agency reported that seven people who had COVID-19 died on Tuesday. But the agency said the deaths were due to cancer, heart disease and other diseases. Five of the seven people were over 60.
Shanghai closed businesses and issued stay-at-home orders for most of its population starting March 28 after an increase in infections. Some people have reported a lack of access to food and medicine.
People in Shanghai who test positive but have no signs of sickness have been ordered into quarantine centers in public buildings.
Slower Economic Growth
The International Monetary Fund reduced its estimate of Chinese growth this year to 4.4 percent. That is down from 4.8 percent. The drop is because of shutdowns in Shanghai and other large cities. The estimate is down by almost half from last year's 8.1 percent growth and below the Communist Party's 5.5 percent target.
Official data this week showed economic growth in China during the first three months of this year dropped compared with the final three months of 2021.
The lockdowns in China will likely further weaken the economy and could lead to a rise in inflation, the IMF said in a report.
Chinese leaders have promised to try to reduce the human and economic cost of COVID-19 by isolating neighborhoods and small areas instead of whole cities. However, many areas appear to be enforcing more severe controls after Shanghai officials were criticized for not acting aggressively enough.
Some cities have begun easing controls. But the government of Harbin, a city of 5.3 million in the northeast, stopped bus and train service on Wednesday. The government also barred the public from moving between districts.
Also Wednesday, the Ministry of Agriculture ordered local officials to avoid any measures that might interfere with spring planting by farmers. The order followed warnings that production of wheat and other crops might be affected. That would increase demand for imports and increase already high global prices.
I’m Dan Novak.
Dan Novak adapted this story for VOA Learning English based on reporting by The Associated Press.
Words in This Story
quarantine — n. the period of time during which a person or animal that has a disease or that might have a disease is kept away from others to prevent the disease from spreading
status — n. the official position of a person or thing according to the law
isolate — v. to put or keep (someone or something) in a place or situation that is separate from others
positive — adj. showing the presence of a particular germ, condition, or substance
district — n. an area or section of a country, city, or town