China pushes mass COVID testing & extends lockdowns in some provinces

China is reportedly deploying new mass testing efforts and extending ongoing lockdowns across a number of its large cities, including Shanghai, to counter a new wave of COVID-19 infections. However, some of the government’s measures have been heavily criticized online.

According to calculations based on official data, China registered an average of 390 daily infections during the seven days ending on July 17, comparatively higher than 340 daily cases in the seven days prior.

Even though the rise in case numbers in miniscule when compared to other parts of Asia, China is adamant about immediately implementing a zero-COVID policy of eradicating Covid-19 outbreaks.

Previously, whenever major outbreaks surged, officials were obliged to execute tougher measures like month-long lockdowns even at the cost of hampered economic growth. Pandemics and lockdowns are further pressurizing the world’s second-largest economy, which has sharply contracted over the second fiscal quarter of 2022 as industrial production and consumer spending comes to a virtual stand-still.

Considering its two-month lockdown during spring, Shanghai plans to roll out mass testing in 16 districts, along with smaller areas with new infections, after sporadic emergence of new cases.

Government data shows that on Monday, Shanghai reported more than a dozen new cases outside the quarantined premises. Multiple rounds of testing have already been initiated in recent months to limit the severity of the outbreak in northern city of Tianjin which is set to re-test its 12 million residents. Besides, 3 Million residents from the four districts of Lanzhou have been put under lockdown till July 24.

Recently, two city officials were removed from their positions by the higher authorities for their poor response to COVID-19 in Beihai, which has since launched mass testing and imposed lockdowns in some areas.

Meanwhile, subway passengers in Changchun were asked to wear N95 masks. In response, Jin Dong-yan, a virology professor from the University of Hong Kong, has supposedly stated that the N95 mask mandate in a city without any active cases would be inconvenient and painful.

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