Shanghai returning to normalcy as COVID outbreak wanes
Shanghai has announced measures to gradually restore production and daily life starting on Wednesday as the city has effectively brought the current COVID-19 wave under control.
Residents in low-risk communities for COVID-19 can move freely in the city except in areas deemed of medium or high risk for the virus' spread starting Wednesday, Zong Ming, vice-mayor of Shanghai, said during a news briefing on Tuesday.
Shopping malls, supermarkets, convenience stores, pharmacies and farm produce markets will restore offline business in accordance with epidemic control protocols.
Postal and courier services are free to reopen their distribution centers and terminal outlets, and gradually restore delivery of personalized packages.
"Starting from Wednesday, Grade-A tourist spots will be reopened with booking requirements and limits on visitor numbers. Parks will also be opened but operating hours must be staggered and visitor numbers limited," said Zong.
Indoor public venues, including cinemas, theaters, museums and gymnasiums, will not resume operation at this stage, she added.
Public transport in the city, including buses, metro lines and ferries, will resume full operation. Taxis and vehicles engaged in online ride-hailing services can also resume operation.
"Private cars from low-risk areas can also hit the road and travel across all the city's 16 districts and cross the Huangpu River via bridges and tunnels," said Xing Peiyi, chief traffic police officer at the Shanghai Public Security Bureau.
Train services to and from Shanghai will also gradually resume normal operations.
"The passenger capacity rates on international flights departing Shanghai will be allowed to increase, and the number of domestic flights leaving and arriving in Shanghai at its two airports will be increased gradually as well," said Liu Bin, deputy director of the Shanghai Transport Commission.
Shanghai has managed to bring its current COVID-19 outbreak, its worst in two years, under control. The city registered 31 new infections, all found in quarantine populations, on Monday.
Official figures showed that altogether 50,000 healthcare workers from around the country had come to aid the city in its fight against COVID-19 over the past months.
On Tuesday, Shanghai saw off the last medical team aiding the city, a 1,091-member medical team from Hubei province. Also on Tuesday, the city closed its largest fangcang, or makeshift hospital, which was built within the National Exhibition and Convention Center (Shanghai).
The closure of the gigantic fangcang, which has a capacity of more than 50,000 beds, marked a decisive victory in Shanghai's fight against the outbreak, according to Chen Erzhen, head of medical treatment teams at makeshift hospitals in the city.
"This fangcang played a critical role in providing quarantine and medical observation for infections as it received nearly one-third of the more than 600,000 COVID-19 infections during the local wave," said Chen, who is also vice-president of Shanghai Ruijin Hospital, in an exclusive interview with China Daily.
During the city's epidemic peak it had more than 120 makeshift hospitals, providing over 300,000 beds, with the number of patients at the fangcang at NECC peaking at 46,000, Chen added.
As Shanghai has basically achieved zero community transmission, the city's epidemic prevention and control for the next step will rely more on the construction of a holistic system to secure no rebound in cases, Chen continued.
The city will still keep three makeshift hospitals, providing 20,000 beds altogether, to ensure effective epidemic control, he said.
"As the city has established a system to transform public facilities into makeshift hospitals in a swift manner, we can expand the fangcang scale whenever an epidemic wave escalates," he said.