BEIJING (Reuters) -China’s financial hub Shanghai on Tuesday reported a fifth consecutive daily record for locally transmitted COVID-19 asymptomatic cases as the highly infectious Omicron variant complicates efforts to stop the virus spreading.
Although small compared with the number of infections in many outbreaks overseas, the rise is significant as Shanghai redoubles its efforts to implement China’s “dynamic clearance” policy designed to curb each flare-up.
The city is pressing ahead with a block by block testing scheme after already completing more than 30 million tests.
Shanghai reported 865 domestically transmitted asymptomatic infections for Monday, official data showed, up from 734 a day earlier.
The municipality also reported 31 new local cases with confirmed symptoms, which China counts separately, on Monday, including one person who was initially reported as an asymptomatic infection and showed symptoms later, according to data from the National Health Commission (NHC).
National authorities have warned local governments against slackening in their virus control efforts and reiterated that infections should be identified and isolated quickly, while acknowledging that officials should minimise the economic and social impact of COVID restrictions.
The NHC said on Tuesday that cities, including those with more than 10 million residents, must be able to complete a testing campaign within 24 hours, while its extent should be tailored to the need for COVID control and not necessarily blanket testing.
IN THE NORTH
Including the infections in Shanghai, mainland China reported on Monday 2,281 new locally transmitted cases with confirmed symptoms, the NHC said, compared with 1,947 a day earlier.
The majority of the new cases were found in the northeastern province of Jilin, which is battling China’s worst regional outbreak since the 2020 one centred on Wuhan where the pandemic began.
Jilin has mostly banned trips both outside the province and from region to region within the province, and residents who have to travel must notify the police.
The number of local symptomatic cases in Jilin’s provincial capital of Changchun has increased for five days in a row and hit a record on March 21.
The city has suspended in-store shopping for three days through to Wednesday and urged residents to go online to order daily necessities, further reducing residents’ movement as the city scrambled to complete a new round of mass testing.
In the northern city of Sanhe, police have launched a formal investigation into 15 people who failed to provide legitimate reasons why they did not submit to citywide testing, citing the “health risk” they posed to other residents, a statement from Communist party authority in Sanhe late on Monday said.
The number of new local asymptomatic cases in mainland China stood at 2,313 compared with 2,384 a day earlier.
There were no new deaths, leaving the death toll at 4,638.
As of March 21, mainland China had reported 134,564 cases with confirmed symptoms, including both local infections and those arriving from outside the mainland.
(Reporting by Roxanne Liu, David Stanway, Beijing Newsroom, Stella Qiu, Yifan Wang; Editing by Christopher Cushing, Kenneth Maxwell and Barbara Lewis)