Shanghai partially resumes public transport in uneven reopening

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Beijing (AFP) – Shanghai partially restarted public transport on Sunday, signaling a gradual reopening after nearly two months in isolation from the outside world.

China’s largest city has been almost entirely in lockdown since April, when it became the epicenter of the country’s worst coronavirus outbreak since the pandemic’s early days.

Unlike other major economies, Beijing has followed a zero Covid approach of eliminating clusters as they emerge, although this has become increasingly difficult with the infectious variant of Omicron.

But as new infections have slowed, Shanghai has cautiously eased restrictions, with some factories resuming operations and residents of low-risk areas allowed to venture outside.

Four of the city’s 20 subway lines will restart on Sunday along with some road transport, officials said this week, forming a “core network covering all central urban areas”.

Those using public transport will be required to present a negative Covid test within 48 hours and have a “normal temperature”, they added on Saturday.

But despite wider attempts to ease curbs, the central district of Jing’an returned to a lockdown on Sunday, according to an official notice.

Jing’an will undergo three consecutive rounds of mass Covid testing starting on Sunday and residents should not leave their homes during this time, a WeChat advisory said.

“The ‘exit permits’ which have been issued will be suspended”, adds the notice on Saturday, while assuring residents that “victory is not far away”.

The city of 25 million people reported more than 600 Covid cases on Sunday, including 570 asymptomatic, according to data from the National Health Commission.

But restrictions have continued in other Chinese cities with Covid cases, including the capital Beijing, which has already banned restaurants and forced millions to work from home.

As of Saturday, nearly 5,000 people in Beijing’s Nanxinyuan residential complex had been relocated to quarantine hotels after 26 new infections were discovered in recent days, state media reported.

Fears are high that the city will take a similar approach to Shanghai, where the lockdown has denied many people adequate access to food and medical care.