coronavirus: shanghai retires half of its fangcang quarantine hospitals as daily covid-19 cases resume falling towards ‘societal zero-covid’ goal

Shanghai’s government retired five of the city’s large makeshift fangcang quarantine hospitals after daily Covid-19 cases resumed their declining trend, a week before a deadline to wipe out community infections.

Daily new cases declined for the 20th day since April 23, falling by 19.8 per cent in the previous 24 hours to 1,681, according to data released on Saturday. Symptomatic cases decreased by 14.5 per cent to 227, while an elderly patient with existing medical ailments died.

“With the stable decline of new positive cases, patients at municipal and district level fangcang hospitals have decreased to below 50,000, or 20 per cent from their peak,” said Ding Bo, who heads patient relocations at the city’s Covid-prevention task force, during a press briefing.

Several municipal-level fangcang hospitals – converted from public venues such as a Formula One racing circuit in Anting, and a 16,000-bed facility in the Lingang free trade area – had been retired, leaving half of all the quarantine facilities still running, Ding said. About 95 per cent of the 288 schools that were set aside as potential fangcang hospitals are no longer in use, he added.

coronavirus: shanghai retires half of its fangcang quarantine hospitals as daily covid-19 cases resume falling towards ‘societal zero-covid’ goal

Workers putting together the finishing touches of a temporary Covid-19 quarantine hospital, called a fangcang, at the National Exhibition and Convention Center (Shanghai) on April 8, 2022. Photo: Xinhua via AP.

New infections of the highly transmissible Omicron variant have been declining in Shanghai since April 23, with daily additions holding 3,000 in the last four days, the vast majority of them showing no symptoms. Symptomatic cases held below 300 a day for the fifth straight day.

About 617,600 people in the city of 25 million residents have caught the disease since March 1, most of them asymptomatic. The cumulative death toll since April 18 is 568, or 0.09 per cent of the infected.

coronavirus: shanghai retires half of its fangcang quarantine hospitals as daily covid-19 cases resume falling towards ‘societal zero-covid’ goal

The check-in area for China Eastern Airlines at the Hongqiao International Airport in Shanghai on Tuesday, March 22, 2022. Photo: Bloomberg

Shanghai has divided the city’s residential compounds, villages and business locations across all 16 districts into three levels, based on severity of their Covid-19 outbreaks.

Nearly 50,000 of them were classified as low-risk “precautionary zones” where no infection had been reported in the past 14 days. There are 17,914 “control zones” in the second tier, and 5,158 “lockdown” areas with newly reported cases.

City authorities have doubled down on their lockdowns, ordering standstill orders on specific districts as the clock ticks towards a May 20 “societal zero-Covid” deadline where all community infections are wiped out. The standstill order curbs medical personnel, deliverers and community volunteers from moving about to limit contacts with residents.

Residents of “lockdown” zones in Yangpu district, the location of many of Shanghai’s universities, are under a three-day “silent period” where they are confined at home to ensure zero contact with outsiders.

Local authorities in one of China’s largest manufacturing hubs – known as ‘China’s Motown’ for the city’s outsize contribution to automotive assemblies – has given the green light for large factories to resume production. About 4,400 of 9,000 of these handpicked manufacturers have resumed production, Shanghai’s Economy and Information Technology commissioner Wu Jincheng said.

Three in four of the largest industrial enterprises have resumed work in Jinshan district in southwestern Shanghai. Construction also resumed on the 16.6 billion yuan (US$2.45 billion) Feitian campus of this newspaper’s owner Alibaba Group Holding. A project by the Shanghai-listed Everdisplay Optronics also resumed construction.

Jinshan is also the first district to open retail banking services since the financial hub entered a lockdown nearly seven weeks ago, deputy district mayor Zhai Jinguo said on Saturday.

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