China sees progress in COVID-19 battle in Shanghai

As China battles Omicron-driven activity in some of its biggest cities, health officials in Shanghai today said its outbreak is under control, as later-affected Beijing tightened measures in a hot spot district.

In Shanghai, which is entering its second month of lockdown, city officials said cases have been declining since Apr 22, though they didn't signal that measures will be relaxed anytime soon, according to Reuters.

Meanwhile, Beijing officials announced the closure of nonessential businesses in Chaoyang, its biggest district, which is home to several embassies and office buildings. Authorities also said mass testing will resume in four districts over the weekend.

The country's National Health Commission today reported 4,628 new local cases, including 356 symptomatic cases and 4,272 classified as asymptomatic. Shanghai had 4,269 cases, 4,024 of them asymptomatic. And Beijing had 72 cases, 17 of them asymptomatic. Twelve deaths were reported, all of them from Shanghai.

At the national level, Chinese officials are doubling down on its "zero COVID" policy and are pushing back on claims that the strict measures are hurting the global economy due to shuttered factories in lockdown areas and supply chain interruptions.

In a related development, China is planning for post lockdown scenarios by building permanent polymerase chain reaction (PCR) COVID-19 testing facilities, according to Reuters.

Other global developments

  • South Africa's test positivity rose to 26.58% today, up from 25.9% reported yesterday, according to the county's National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD). It reported 9,253 new cases today, down slightly from yesterday. Officials are closely tracking whether a rise in cases over the past few weeks signals the start of a fifth wave due to the more transmissible BA.4 and BA.5 variants.

  • The UK Health Security Agency (HSA) today said 9 BA.4 and 5 BA.5 cases have been detected so far in England.

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