Shanghai asks residents to stay in on Christmas as China COVID surges

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SHANGHAI, Dec 24 (Reuters) – Shanghai authorities have urged residents to stay home this weekend as the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) rages across the country after severe restrictions were lifted. .

On Saturday, a branch of the Shanghai Municipal Health Commission urged young people, in particular, to avoid crowded gatherings as the new coronavirus spreads easily and temperatures are low.

Although China does not traditionally celebrate Christmas, it is common for young couples and some families to spend the holidays together.

Omicron variants have surged weeks after authorities abruptly ended their zero COVID policy, lifting strict testing requirements and travel restrictions as China became the last major country to live with the virus. rice field.

While many have welcomed mitigation, families and health systems were unprepared for the resulting surge in infections. is rushing to build a clinic.

Shanghai usually hosts large Christmas-themed markets in the posh shopping areas along West Nanjing Road, with restaurants and retailers running promotions to boost business.

But the Omicron infestation is ruining the celebration.

Jacqueline Mokatta, who works in the hospitality industry, said many restaurants in Shanghai have canceled Christmas parties normally held for patrons, and hotels are limiting reservations due to staff shortages. .

“Given our staffing, we only have a certain amount of customers that we can accommodate and most of our team members are currently unwell,” she said.

Skepticism about official data

On social media, people lamented staying home because most of their friends have tested positive for COVID.

“I was originally planning to go to Shanghai for Christmas, but now I can only lie in bed,” wrote a person on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like social network.

China is likely to have more than 1 million confirmed cases a day and more than 5,000 deaths a day, in “a stark contrast” to official data, says UK-based health data company Airfinity. announced this week.

China’s national health authorities reported 4,128 daily symptomatic COVID-19 infections on Saturday, with no deaths for the fourth straight day.

Bloomberg News reported Friday, citing estimates from the government’s chief health official, that nearly 37 million people may have contracted COVID in a single day over the past week.

An emergency hotline in the city of Taiyuan in northern Shanxi province is receiving more than 4,000 calls a day, local media reported Saturday.

Taiyuan authorities told residents that COVID guidance “does not fall within the scope of the hotline” and urged residents to call the number only for medical emergencies.

Health officials in Qingdao said the port city is seeing about 500,000 infections daily, media reported Friday.

In Wuhan, the epicenter of COVID three years ago, media reported Friday that local blood reservoirs had only 4,000 units, enough to last two days. The repository called on people to “roll up their sleeves and donate blood.”

Reported by Josh Horwitz in Shanghai.Edited by William Mallard

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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