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Shanghai starts China's biggest lockdown in 2 years as Covid cases surge

Shanghai starts Chinas biggest lockdown in 2 years as Covid cases surge

Shanghai: Amid a significant rise in Covid cases, China has launched a phased lockdown to conduct mass testing and control a growing outbreak in Shanghai.

China's biggest city - with a population of over 26 million - will shut bridges and tunnels, and restrict highway traffic in a scramble to contain surging local COVID-19 cases.

As per reports, the city's eastern half for five days of testing from Monday. The western side will be similarly shut on Friday.

The lockdown comes as the city broke its record for daily new cases over three consecutive days - 1,609 on Thursday, 2,267 on Friday and 2,676 on Saturday.

The city will first lockdown areas east of the Huangpu River, which includes its financial district and industrial parks, Bloomberg reported.

Residents will be barred from leaving home and public transport and car-hailing services will be suspended, authorities said. Private cars will not be allowed unless it is an emergency. Emergency medical needs will be guaranteed.

Authorities had earlier ruled out a city-wide lockdown amid fears it could 'impact the global economy' given Shanghai's role as a global shipping hub. Some restrictions were introduced though, with negative Covid tests needed for people to move around in public.

The financial hub has overtaken the north-eastern province of Jilin - which reported 2,078 cases Saturday - as the newest hotspot in China.

The situation in Shanghai and Jilin underscores difficulties in following President Xi Jinping's order to eliminate the virus but minimise the economic and social impacts.

The WHO has said the BA. 2 sub-variant driving spikes in China, Hong Kong, parts of Europe and the United States is considered highly infectious.

China reported 4,790 new cases on Friday and 5,600 on Saturday; these numbers are exclusive of those from Hong Kong, which tracks Covid cases separately.

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