Shanghai authorities shut down the Central District telling everyone to stay home ahead of mass Covid testing

Shanghai authorities have shut down a central district and told all residents to stay at home – as all shops and supermarkets close until Tuesday.

The Jingan district, named after an ancient Chinese temple, has closed to allow mass Covid testing to take place from tomorrow until May 24.

All residents have been urged to participate in mandatory testing to help the district “win the battle against the pandemic” after Shanghai announced its first new Covid cases outside quarantine zones in five days on Friday.

Authorities also announced that the use of all exit permits, which allow residents to leave their homes, has also been suspended until further notice.

Posted on the district’s WeChat account, the message read, “In order to further consolidate the results of epidemic prevention and control and gradually restore normal production and living order, our district will conduct three consecutive rounds of the May 22 to May 24.

“All residents and friends are requested to participate in this series of screenings, cooperate with prevention and control work as always, stay home patiently and protect themselves personally.”

The district’s closure comes after the head of the World Health Organization criticized China’s Zero Covid strategy and urged it to change its policy – as millions of Shanghai residents remain under brutal lockdown.

Shanghai authorities have closed a central district and told all residents to stay at home – as all shops and supermarkets must close

Jingan district, named after an ancient Chinese temple, has closed to allow mass Covid testing to take place from tomorrow until May 24.  Pictured: A quarantined man plays badminton in the yard amid the ongoing Covid-19 lockdown in Shanghai, China on Saturday

Jingan district, named after an ancient Chinese temple, has closed to allow mass Covid testing to take place from tomorrow until May 24. Pictured: A quarantined man plays badminton in the yard amid the ongoing Covid-19 lockdown in Shanghai, China on Saturday

Quarantined people gather outside their residential compound in Shanghai on Saturday

Quarantined people gather outside their residential compound in Shanghai on Saturday

China has recorded more than 760,000 new Covid cases since ultra-infectious Omicron variants broke China's super-tight restrictions in March - although there are doubts about the reliability of the data.  This figure includes semi-autonomous Hong Kong

China has recorded more than 760,000 new Covid cases since ultra-infectious Omicron variants broke China’s super-tight restrictions in March – although there are doubts about the reliability of the data. This figure includes semi-autonomous Hong Kong

In a rare rebuke from the Communist Party, which is one of the health agency’s biggest financial contributors, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said earlier this month that the strategy does not was not viable.

“As we all know, the virus evolves, changes its behaviors, becomes more transmissible,” he said. “With this change in behavior, changing your measurements will be very important.

“When we talk about a zero-Covid strategy, we don’t think it’s sustainable.” He added: “Given the behavior of the virus, I think a change [in China’s strategy] will be very important.

The WHO had previously been criticized as too “China-centric” during the pandemic and was accused of failing to publicly challenge Chinese misinformation in early 2020.

Chinese censors have already censored Dr Tedros’ comments, with searches for the hashtags “Tedros” and “WHO” on popular social media platform Weibo returning no results.

WeChat app users were also unable to share articles posted on the official account of a UN health agency.

People rest outside their homes in a quarantined residential compound amid the ongoing Covid-19 lockdown in Shanghai, China

People rest outside their homes in a quarantined residential compound amid the ongoing Covid-19 lockdown in Shanghai, China

The WHO had already been criticized as too

The WHO had previously been criticized as too ‘China-centric’ during the pandemic and was accused of failing to publicly challenge Chinese misinformation in early 2020

Pictured: Workers deliver goods to a quarantined residential complex in Shanghai

Pictured: Workers deliver goods to a quarantined residential complex in Shanghai

Official Chinese modeling used to justify sticking to Zero Covid warned that abandoning it now would trigger a “tsunami” of infections and kill 1.6 million people this summer.

Meanwhile, state media reported that Shanghai is aiming to end its Covid lockdown and return to “normal life” by June 1.

More than 40 Chinese cities are under total or partial containment measures, according to estimates by the Japanese firm Nomura. China has spent the past two years criticizing the West for overseeing so many virus deaths, making it politically difficult for the Chinese government to back away from the Zero Covid policy.

Dr Tedros’ comments were echoed by Mike Ryan, the WHO’s emergencies chief, who said all actions to combat the pandemic should “show due respect for individual and human rights”.

Residents line up for mass COVID testing on Wednesday, May 11, 2022 in Beijing.  (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

Residents line up for mass COVID testing on Wednesday, May 11, 2022 in Beijing. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

Blue Sky rescue team members disinfect a residential community during the gradual lockdown triggered by the COVID-19 outbreak on April 24, 2022 in Shanghai, China

Blue Sky rescue team members disinfect a residential community during the gradual lockdown triggered by the COVID-19 outbreak on April 24, 2022 in Shanghai, China

Countries must “balance control measures, impact on society, impact on the economy”. It’s not always an easy calibration to do,” Dr. Ryan said.

China is one of the last countries to cling to the strategy of eliminating the virus that was abandoned months ago by countries like South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and Singapore.

This means China is still sending all Covid cases and their close contacts to centralized quarantine facilities and sealing off entire buildings or streets in the event of a single positive test.

China has recorded more than 760,000 new Covid cases and around 550 deaths since ultra-infectious Omicron variants breached China’s super-tight restrictions in March – although there are doubts about the reliability of the data.

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