Shanghai disinfects houses, closes all subways in fight against Covid

BEIJING – Teams in white protective suits enter the homes of people infected with coronavirus to spray disinfectant as Shanghai tries to eradicate an omicron outbreak under China’s strict “zero-Covid” strategy.

City official Jin Chen said Tuesday that in older communities with shared bathrooms and kitchens, the homes of anyone else using those facilities will also be disinfected. He tried to address public concern about damage to clothing and valuables, saying residents can tell teams about anything that needs protection.

Shanghai also suspended service on the last two subway lines still in operation on Tuesday, marking the first time the entire city system has been shut down, according to The Paper, an online media outlet.

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The latest measures come as Shanghai has ordered people in some districts to stay home again after allowing some to go out for limited purchases in recent weeks. The latest steps have further frustrated residents, who had hoped a more than month-long lockdown would finally ease as the number of new cases in the city declines.

Most of the city’s 25 million people appear to be confined to their apartments or housing complexes, though there has been some easing in outlying suburban areas with no new cases in their communities. AP video shot Monday showed a quiet, deserted city, with only the very occasional vehicle and a few food delivery drivers on scooters moving along empty roads.

The daily number of new cases in Shanghai fell to about 3,000 on Monday, from a high of 26,000 in mid-April. Authorities have kept most of the city on lockdown as they try to stem the spread of the virus, even as many other parts of the world are loosening restrictions and trying to live with it. Six more Covid-related deaths were reported in China’s largest city, bringing the number of victims of the outbreak to 553.

Beijing, the capital, began another three-day round of mass testing for millions of its residents on Tuesday in a bid to prevent an outbreak from growing to Shanghai proportions. The city, which recorded 74 new cases on Monday, has closed individual buildings and residential complexes, closed some 60 subway stations and banned dining in restaurants, allowing only takeout and delivery.

Shanghai initially ordered mass testing along with a limited lockdown, but extended it as the number of cases rose. Thousands of residents have been forced into centralized quarantine centers after testing positive or having been in contact with an infected person.

Notices issued in several districts in recent days said residents were ordered to stay home and banned from receiving non-essential deliveries as part of a “quiet period” that will last until at least Wednesday. The measures could be extended depending on the results of the mass tests, the notices said. The sudden tightening, after some initial opening, took residents by surprise.

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