China’s spring outbreak of COVID-19 continues to subside, but a single local case in Shenzhen detected on Saturday triggered mass testing and neighborhood lockdowns in some parts of the technology hub. Two cases were eventually reported for Saturday, with none on Sunday.
Nationwide, China is reporting the lowest number of new cases since early February. Of its top 50 cities by economic size, none currently have widespread restrictions in place. Recent outbreaks in Beijing and Inner Mongolia look to have been brought under control.
Still, targeted curbs have been imposed. In-person teaching at elementary schools in Beijing and Shanghai is still halted, and some specific residential areas are locked down. A growing outbreak in Macau, its first in eight months, has triggered more border restrictions from mainland China.
Shanghai is requiring everyone in the city to get tested each weekend. Many districts in Beijing and in other cities are also requiring regular testing, especially for workers in high-risk industries, including taxi drivers and retail employees. Shenzhen imposed home isolation orders on several residential compounds in the Futian and Luohu districts that border Hong Kong after each reported an asymptomatic infection.
The spread of the highly contagious omicron variant spurred increasingly stringent pandemic curbs in China between March and early June, in some cases triggering extensive lockdowns that carried heavy costs for the local population and economy. The country’s deployment of restrictions, which can come with little to no warning, shows it continues to pursue a zero-tolerance strategy that’s left it isolated from the rest of the world.
Tracking the cases and the curbs could offer insight into what regions may be vulnerable to disruption in the days ahead.
Twenty-three of China’s 31 mainland provinces had no cases in the past week, with only Beijing seeing more than 20 cases a day on average.
China reported 24 new infections overall on Sunday, with 13 in Shanghai.
As the outbreak has subsided people are going out more, with the number of subway trips last week up almost 9 percent compared to the same time last year.
People took an average of 47 million subway trips each day of the week through Thursday in the top 11 cities.
The Shanghai subway system is also returning to normal, with people taking almost 6 million rides last Thursday. That’s still less than the 9.8 million on average each day in 2021, but an improvement on the situation in April and May.
Inter-province travel is still limited by various restrictions on movement, with some domestic travelers forced to quarantine in hotels due to outbreaks where they are from or because they have come from medium or high-risk areas such as Shanghai.
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