City set to gradually reopen in coming days
The city aims to open up by mid-May after achieving zero COVID-19 community transmissions with "limited movement and effective control & classified management," Shanghai executive Vice Mayor Wu Qing said on Friday.
As the city's resurgence continues trending in a positive direction, the three emergency area classifications – locked-down, controlled and precautionary – will be gradually downgraded to the former high, medium and low-risk designations, Wu said.
"Shanghai is at a key stage of transforming from emergency response to normal COVID-19 prevention and control," Wu said at the city's daily coronavirus press briefing. "We need more understanding, support and cooperation from residents."
"The light is getting closer and closer," said Wu.
The local government is creating a general plan to gradually return to normal life and production while consolidating pandemic-prevention achievements, he said.
Transportation, supermarkets, malls and convenient stores will start reopening. Hair salons and laundry-related businesses will begin taking online reservations and providing offline services.
Students, who should take part in college and high school entrance exams, which have been postponed by a month to early July, will firstly return to school.
More hospitals and medical institutes will reopen, and more non-urgent surgeries will be performed.
Governmental service windows will also reopen with extended hours.
15-minute PCR circle
PCR screenings, transportation and quarantine facilities for those who test positive for the virus will continue.
Stipulations for locked-down areas where residents must stay in their homes have been loosened. Those areas will be downgraded to controlled areas, meaning people can move around within their communities, after one week with no new cases. Communities will be further downgraded to precautionary areas if they go another three days with no new infections.
"The pandemic-control situation is stabilizing despite some minor fluctuations," Wu said.
More than 99 percent of new infections were among those under lockdown or quarantine. Only six cases were reported during the last community screenings three days ago.
The risk of another surge primarily exists in old residential communities and urban villages, which require ongoing prevention and control measures.
The local government has arranged more than 9,900 PCR testing sites across the city, enabling residents to take PCR tests within a 15-minute walk from their homes or workplaces.
More than 5,700 testing sites have begun operating to serve people returning to work and those living in precautionary areas. These sites can test over eight million tubes every day.
The number of local daily infections rose by about 45 percent to 2,096 on Thursday, but only four were detected in precautionary areas.
Close to 18 million local residents, about 70 percent of the city's population, are in precautionary areas, which are communities, villages, companies and sites without a positive case in the past two weeks.
The number of residents in locked-down areas is slightly more than 2 million, while over 3 million are in controlled areas.
Zhao Dandan, deputy director of the Shanghai Health Commission, suggests people use formal e-commerce platforms and online stores, and avoid buying products from dubious sources. Residents should continue ordering food and supplies online, and refrain from contacting delivery staff.
The city reported two more COVID-19 deaths on Thursday, aged 88 and 89. Both had severe underlying conditions and neither was vaccinated.
Of COVID-19 patients in local designated and makeshift hospitals, 298 have severe symptoms and 66 are in critical condition.
About 140 clinics in 11 local districts have reopened for COVID-19 vaccination services, primarily for the elderly. Around 100,000 people were vaccinated between May 1 and 11, half of them seniors.
Around 3.6 million residents over the age of 60 have received two jabs of COVID-19 vaccines, among whom close to 39 percent have gotten booster shots.