SHANGHAI: Some residents of Shanghai stepped out of their homes for the first time in more than two weeks on Tuesday (Apr 12), as the city took tentative steps towards easing a COVID-19 lockdown amid mounting worries over the economic impact of the strict curbs.
Shanghai said on Monday that more than 7,000 residential units had been classified as lower-risk areas after reporting no new infections for 14 days, and its districts have since been announcing which specific compounds can be opened up.
But while some people were allowed out of their residences on Tuesday, there was still confusion about the extent to which those in the lower-risk zones were free to move, with many still awaiting permission from their residential committees.
Residents from lower-risk zones known as “prevention areas” are still subject to controls and will have to observe strict social distancing measures, city health official Wu Qianyu said at a press briefing.
“After a long period of lockdown, it is understandable that people want to go out and get some air, and they need to go shopping for food and medicine and go for medical treatment,” she said.
“But if lots of people gather in a disorderly way, it will cause hidden dangers to our epidemic prevention work.”
On Monday, Shanghai’s total new asymptomatic cases fell 11 per cent from a day earlier to 22,348, with confirmed symptomatic cases rising to 994 from 914.
But experts said it was still too early to say whether the city was getting to grips with the outbreak – China’s biggest since the coronavirus was first discovered in late 2019.
Zhang Boli, a medical expert and government adviser, said the multiple points of transmission made the current flare-ups different from previous ones.
“It might take more time than previously – it isn’t easy to make predictions,” he told the Health Times newspaper.
Amid concerns about the tough curbs, the US State Department has ordered its non-emergency government workers to leave its consulate in Shanghai.