Shanghai conducts more COVID tests as food supply frustrations mount

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SHANGHAI, April 9 (Reuters) – Shanghai carried out another round of mass COVID-19 testing on Saturday, this time testing residents at least twice in a single day, as a city official in the Chinese financial hub recognized shortcomings in the management of the epidemic.

It was the fourth consecutive day of citywide testing in Shanghai, which reported a record 23,600 new locally transmitted cases.

Although these case numbers are low by global standards, the city has become a test bed for the country’s elimination strategy, which aims to centrally test, trace and quarantine all positive cases of COVID.

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Beijing stepped in after Shanghai’s initial effort to isolate the virus by locking down in stages failed, insisting the country stick to its zero-tolerance policy to prevent its medical system from being overwhelmed.

But the restrictions have sharply reduced the supply of food and other essentials to the city of 26 million, as many supermarkets have been closed and thousands of couriers locked down. Access to medical care was also a concern.

City residents were told to self-administer antigen tests on Saturdays, sometimes even two, and then line up at their compounds later in the day for PCR tests.

Meanwhile, public frustrations have grown over disruptions to the food supply.

Video footage circulating on Chinese social media showed people in hazmat suits brawling with occupants of a housing complex in Shanghai. Some residents shouted, “Send supplies.” Reuters was unable to independently verify the images.

The city government said it was trying to get more couriers back on the streets and reopen supermarkets. E-commerce company JD.com Inc (9618.HK) said it was granted a license to deliver goods to Shanghai, sparking a rush on its platform.

Shanghai deputy mayor Zong Ming admitted at a press conference that authorities had failed to meet public expectations in their handling of the situation.

“We feel the same way about the issues that everyone has raised and expressed,” he said. “Much of our work has not been enough, and there is still a big gap from everyone’s expectations. We will do our best to improve.”

GUANGZHOU TEST

The US State Department said in a travel advisory on Friday that it was allowing non-emergency personnel and their families to leave the Shanghai consulate due to rising case numbers and the impact of restrictions.

He also advised US citizens to reconsider travel to China “due to arbitrary application of local laws and restrictions related to COVID-19.”

Elsewhere on Saturday, the southern megacity of Guangzhou – home to more than 18 million people – said it would begin testing in its 11 districts after cases were reported on Friday.

In Beijing, the municipal government has placed a high-risk area under lockdown after eight confirmed COVID cases in the past two weeks, Pang Xinghuo, deputy director of the Beijing Center for Disease Prevention and Control, told reporters.

Lockdowns in Shanghai and other parts of China are also rattling supply chains.

Chinese electric vehicle maker Nio (9866.HK) said it suspended production after COVID halted operations at its suppliers in Shanghai and the provinces of Jilin and Jiangsu. Read more

(This story has been reclassified to correct clipping in the title)

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Reporting by David Kirton and Zoey Zhang; Editing by Richard Pullin, Mike Harrison and Alex Richardson

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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