SHANGHAI/BEIJING, July 6 (Reuters) – China is fighting COVID-19 flare-ups on multiple fronts across the country including an emerging cluster in Shanghai, spurring mass testing drives and fresh restrictions, as pressures mount on local officials to avert a wider spread and huge disruptions.
The overall case load remained small by global standards with just over 300 daily local infections, but any further potential surge in key cities could call for a return of stringent measures under China’s “dynamic COVID zero” policy and dent confidence in the country’s economic recovery.
Shanghai, which lifted its two-month lockdown in early June, is testing all residents in nine of its 16 districts from Tuesday to Thursday as well as those in parts of three other districts.
It has also suspended operations at karaoke venues, following cases linked to a KTV lounge, but the gradual reopening of cinemas and performance venues from Friday will still go ahead, Jin Lei, an official at Shanghai’s cultural and tourism authority, told a news briefing on Wednesday.
“Several Chinese areas are facing local outbreaks and infections have emerged at the community level in Shanghai, to which we should attach great importance,” Shanghai health official Zhao Dandan warned at the briefing.
“There should be no slacking,” Zhao said.
The financial hub of around 25 million people reported 24 domestically transmitted infections on Tuesday, official data showed on Wednesday, up from eight the prior day.
China’s capital Beijing, which detected six local cases on Tuesday following three a day earlier, on Wednesday urged transport hubs and hotels to strictly implement preventive measures such as checking the body temperature of visitors and their proof of negative test results.
In the eastern province of Anhui, where more than 1 million people in small towns are under lockdown, the case load on Tuesday declined slightly to 222 from 231 a day before, but still accounted for the majority of the daily infections in mainland China.
Starting on Wednesday, the northwestern city of Xian activated a seven-day suspension of operations at various entertainment venues, dine-in at restaurants and big events. The city, which has a population of 13 million people, reported 11 local infections for July 5, up from nine a day earlier.
China reported a total of 353 domestically transmitted infections on July 5 on the mainland, including 112 asymptomatic cases and 241 symptomatic ones, the National Health Commission said on Wednesday.
There were no new deaths, same as a day earlier, keeping the nation’s fatalities at 5,226.
As of Tuesday, China had confirmed 226,176 cases with symptoms, including both local ones and those found among international travellers.
(Reporting by Roxanne Liu, Ryan Woo, Ella Cao, Brenda Goh and Shanghai newsroom; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)