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China's Shenzhen eases weekend COVID-19 lockdown but some curbs remain

China's Shenzhen eases weekend COVID-19 lockdown but some curbs remain

FILE PHOTO: Medical workers in protective suits collect swabs from residents at a residential compound in Nanshan district, in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, China on Sep 3, 2022. (Photo: REUTERS/David Kirton)

BEIJING: China's Shenzhen moved away on Monday (Sep 5) from a weekend COVID-19 lockdown covering most parts of the city as new infections showed signs of stabilising in its latest outbreak, while entertainment venues and large events remained suspended.

An outbreak since late August prompted Shenzhen to temporarily order most of its 17.7 million residents to largely remain at home over the weekend and subject them to two rounds of mass testing.

By Monday, restrictions on dining and certain park visits were eased, and many subway stations resumed operation, in efforts to minimise disruptions while still adhering to Beijing's "dynamic COVID-zero" policy that aims at containing each and every outbreak.

The adjustments came after the southern tech hub found fewer infections among those who hadn't been quarantined already.

The latest data showed 71 new local cases for Sunday, down from 89 a day earlier, while the cumulative figure of around 500 infections since late August remains less than the total in the last major outbreak in mid-March.

But Shenzhen remains on high vigilance against the Omicron subvariants.

The city said it will classify its areas into three categories from Monday - reflecting low, medium and high risk of infection - depending on the results of the weekend testing.

In areas deemed low risk, the city will remove restrictions that confined much of its population to residential compounds over the weekend, though lockdowns will remain in place in "high" and "medium" risk neighbourhoods.

In areas where infections were found, temporary restrictions would be prolonged for three days.

Most residents continued to be subject to stricter rules when entering residential compounds, such as white lists for entry and checks on digital health credentials. Targeted lockdowns also continued in some areas deemed to be at higher risk.

While most parts of Shenzhen reopened food establishments on Monday, restaurants could only operate at half capacity. The city's most populous district, Baoan, and the district of Guangming, allowed parks to take visitors at half capacity.

China has stuck to its stringent COVID-19 policies even as most other countries have eased restrictions and learned to live with the virus. The approach increasingly clouds the outlook for the world's second-largest economy as the highly transmissible Omicron spreads across China, prompting curbs and lockdowns.

Chengdu, the biggest Chinese city that has entered lockdown after Shanghai's two-month ordeal, extended its lockdown by three days through to Wednesday for most of its 21.2 million residents.

As of Monday morning, the flight cancellation rate at Chengdu's Shuangliu Airport was 88 per cent and its Tianfu Airport was at 95 per cent, according to data from Flight Master.

Flights in many other cities remained suspended.

The flight cancellation rate at Lhasa's Gongga Airport in Tibet was at 97 per cent and Sanya's Phoenix Airport in Hainan was at 90 per cent, while Xining's Caojiapu Airport in Qinghai stood at 96 per cent and Shenzhen's Baoan Airport was at 82 per cent.

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Source: Reuters/ga


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