Shanghai signals resumption of some economic activities, acknowledges COVID-related deaths

China has signaled the resumption of some economic activity in its commercial and financial capital, Shanghai, which has been in a citywide lockdown for three weeks to varying degrees.

On Monday, Chinese authorities also officially acknowledged the city’s first Covid-related deaths since March and reported the deaths of three people from Covid in Shanghai for the first time since the financial hub went into lockdown in late March. Media quoted a statement from the city’s health commission as saying the three were between the ages of 89 and 91, had multiple comorbidities and were unvaccinated.

Shanghai’s Economics and Information Technology Commission said over the weekend that production would resume at major manufacturing sites that had been idle since early April as authorities faced pressure from foreign diplomats, business groups and multinational companies calling for a relaxation of anti-coronavirus control. measures amid reports of foreign capital outflows from the country.

According to local media, the Commission said major companies in the fields of automobiles, semiconductors and biomedicine must submit detailed plans on protecting against the spread of Covid-19 for local health authorities. examine them before giving them the green light. resume operations under so-called closed loop conditions. No timetable for the resumption of economic operation is yet available. Shanghai’s anti-coronavirus control and prevention measures have dealt a heavy blow to the automotive industry alone. The lockdown has crippled nearly every thousand Shanghai-based auto supply chain companies, including TESLA, which is believed to have lost production of nearly 40,000 vehicles.

The decision to ease the lockdown comes despite the continued spread of the highly transmissible Omicron variant of Covid-19. Shanghai added 24,820 new cases of Covid-19 on Sunday, including 3,238 symptomatic. The total number of infections in the city has now topped 350,000 since the outbreak began on March 1. Wu Jinglei, director of Shanghai’s health commission, said at a press briefing on Sunday that another round of mass testing would be conducted in the coming days to detect infections. and cut the chains of transmission, as the city has remained adamant on achieving its zero Covid goal. The city has conducted at least nine rounds of citywide mass testing across all of its 25 million residents since April 3.

In an unprecedented challenge to authorities, frustrated Chinese citizens have rebelled against COVID shutdowns in many cities, especially Shanghai, which have led to food shortages, family separations and lost wages. Videos on social media show citizens brawling with health workers and screaming angrily from their apartment windows. Arrests and detentions for violations of COVID-related rules increased in March, according to a search of the Weibo social media platform for police statements, state agency posts and state media reports. Most of the offenses involve citizens trying to circumvent rules such as reporting travel on a health app, tampering with COVID test results and sneaking out of locked neighborhoods. Attacks on health workers have also increased.

Sara H. Byrd