Residents queue up for nucleic acid tests in Pudong, Shanghai, on April 4, 2022. Photo: Xinhua

Guangzhou, the capital of southern China’s Guangdong province, has stopped people leaving the city unless necessary and closed schools for one week after dozens of Covid-19 cases were identified over the weekend.

People who want to leave Guangzhou are now required to show a negative result from a Covid test done within the past 48 hours. Areas where infections have been found include Baiyun and Yuexiu districts, which have been locked down so testing can be carried out.

Meanwhile, the number of infections in Shanghai has remained high since the financial hub was locked down on March 28. On Monday, a total of 914 symptomatic cases and 25,173 asymptomatic ones were reported in Shanghai.

Officials said lockdown measures would soon be eased in districts where they had not reported positive cases in the past 14 days.

On Sunday evening, the Guangzhou government reported 27 new Covid cases on Sunday, including nine asymptomatic ones. On Saturday, it recorded a total of 11 cases.

Wu Linbo, the deputy secretary-general of the municipal government, said in a media briefing on Sunday that about 13% of the identified patients had normal illness symptoms, while the remaining only had mild or no symptoms.

Most of the newly-identified cases were detected from screening the city’s key groups, close contacts and secondary close contacts of previously reported confirmed cases and asymptomatic ones, said Chen Bin, deputy director of the municipal health commission. But there could still be some transmission chains in the communities, he added.

A primary school pupil receives a dose of Covid-19 vaccine in Guangzhou on November 1, 2021. Photo: Xinhua

Starting from Monday, students in the city’s primary and middle schools will switch to online classes. The exception will be third-graders in senior high schools whose schools have accommodation and closed-off management conditions.

Kindergartens in Guangzhou will suspend admitting new children. The local off-campus training institutions will cancel offline teaching, and after-school care institutions will suspend services. Institutions of higher learning are expected to be put under closed-off management.

The physical education examination for the city’s senior high school entrance examination, previously scheduled for Monday, will also be temporarily suspended.

Guangzhou has also tightened its virus control measures and encouraged its citizens not to leave the city unless necessary. It also started building a makeshift hospital in its Pazhou exhibition center. Eleven districts of the city have launched Covid testing campaigns. As of Sunday noon, a total of more than 19 million people had been tested for Covid, Xinhua reported.

Mainland media said a total of 28,000 medical staff had been deployed at 3,571 sample collection sites in Guangzhou. As of Sunday noon, health authorities had collected samples from 19.18 million people in Guangzhou.

Supermarkets were still open despite the closure of some shopping malls and bars, but there were very few vehicles and people on the streets, a resident living in the Tianhe district told RTHK. A Hong Kong man surnamed Wong, who resided in Guangzhou, also said supermarkets, markets and pharmacies were still open in his area.

Mainland China on Sunday reported 1,164 locally transmitted confirmed Covid-19 cases, plus 26,411 new asymptomatic infections, according to the National Health Commission.

Liang Wannian, head of the Covid-19 response expert panel under China’s National Health Commission, said although Shanghai still reported more than 20,000 asymptomatic cases per day, the overall epidemic situation had been stabilized. However, Liang added that it was necessary to maintain the current quarantine measures for the moment.

On Monday, the Shanghai government announced it had divided the entire city into areas belonging to three categories as part of targeted efforts to overcome a local Covid-19 resurgence.

It said it had designated 7,624 closed-off management areas, 2,460 restrictive control areas and 7,565 prevention areas.

The closed-off management areas refer to residential communities, villages, work units or venues with Covid-19 infections reported in the past seven days. People in those areas will undergo seven days of closed-off management plus seven days of health monitoring at home. Door-to-door services will be provided where needed.

A medical worker takes a swab sample from a resident for a Covid test in Liwan district of Guangzhou on April 9, 2022. Photo: Xinhua

The restrictive control areas are those without reported infections in the past seven days, where people will observe seven days of health monitoring at home.

Those areas without reported infections over the past 14 days were labeled as prevention areas, where people are allowed in principle to move inside their respective sub-district or town with strict restrictions on the scale of gatherings, but are banned from entering the other two types of areas.

The classification of each area can be adjusted in response to any changes in the situation within, said the municipal government.

On Sunday, a commentary published by Xinhua said China had not relaxed its dynamic zero-Covid approach as the repercussions of lowering its guard could be disastrous for a country with 1.4 billion people, including 267 million aged 60 or above and more than 250 million children.

Citing some World Health Organization experts, the article said Omicron was seemingly less severe than Delta, but it was still a dangerous virus and could still cause serious symptoms, especially among those with underlying conditions, the elderly and those who are unvaccinated.

Read: Shanghai residents fume as authorities fumble lockdown

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