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‘Extremely grim’: Shanghai extends COVID-19 lockdown as new infections surge

A worker in a protective suit stands behind barriers sealing off a residential area under lockdown, following the fresh coronavirus outbreak in Shanghai, China. (File Photo)

China on Tuesday extended restrictions on transportation in Shanghai after a day of intensive testing in the country’s financial hub saw new cases surge to more than 13,000.

Gu Honghui, the director of Shanghai's working group on epidemic control, was quoted by state media as saying that the outbreak in the city was "still running at a high level."

"The situation is extremely grim," Gu noted with concern.

More than 26 million people in the bustling Chinese city were placed under a partial two-stage lockdown last week in a bid to contain the fresh COVID-19 outbreak.

Authorities in the city announced on Tuesday that more subway lines would be suspended as part of more restrictions on the city transportation network.

After a city-wide surveillance testing program that saw more than 25 million people swabbed in 24 hours, a record 13,086 new asymptomatic coronavirus cases were recorded on Monday, up from 8,581 cases the previous day.

At least 38 thousand personnel were deployed to the city on Monday in what was described as the biggest nationwide medical operation in the country since the shutdown of Wuhan in early 2020.

According to media reports, more than 10,000 healthcare workers from provinces such as Jiangsu, Zhejiang, and Beijing have been recruited for the massive health mission.

A report in Reuters, citing an armed forces newspaper, said the People's Liberation Army (PLA) had sent over 2,000 medical personnel from the Army, Navy, and joint logistics support forces to Shanghai.

Sun Chunlan, China's vice-premier in charge of the COVID-19 response, during an inspection of testing sites in Shanghai on Monday, said that prevention and control work was now at a "critical point".

He urged local party organizations to "do everything possible" to help residents solve their problems amid reports of public concern over the measures.

Meanwhile, symptomatic cases in the city fell on Monday to 268, from 425 the day before, due to the city's proactive screening process.

The latest COVID-19 surge in Shanghai has been fueled by the highly-contagious Omicron variant of the coronavirus, which was spotted first in South Africa late last year.

The city had managed its smaller, past outbreaks with limited lockdowns.

China, where the novel coronavirus originated in late 2019, has called its "zero-tolerance" approach the most economical and effective prevention strategy against the pandemic.

The country’s anti-coronavirus measures, including mass testing, vaccination, and lockdown of cities and provinces for even small numbers of infections, have been largely successful in curbing the disease.

Nationwide, China reported 1,235 confirmed coronavirus cases on Monday, down from 1,405 a day earlier.

However, the number of asymptomatic cases rose to 15,355 compared to 11,862 the day before.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has urged officials to make all-out efforts in containing the fresh coronavirus outbreak while adhering to its "dynamic-clearance" policy.

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