News Shanghai locals step outside as strict COVID-19 curbs ease
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Shanghai locals step outside as strict COVID-19 curbs ease

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Some Shanghai residents have been able to leave their homes for the first time in more than two weeks as the city takes tentative steps towards easing a COVID-19 lockdown amid mounting worries over the economic impact of the strict curbs.

With a quarter of the population under what brokerage Nomura described as “full or partial lockdowns”, China’s leadership is taking increasing steps to ease the economic toll of its “zero-COVID” strategy, but remains reluctant to risk larger waves of infection.

German auto parts giant Bosch and Taiwan’s Pegatron Corp, which assembles iPhones for Apple, said on Tuesday they had suspended operations at their China plants due to the restrictions, underscoring the risks both to China’s economy and global supply chains.

Shanghai said on Monday that more than 7000 areas, which local media reported as home to about 4.8 million of its 25 million residents, had been classified as lower risk after no new infections for 14 days.

Local officials have been announcing which residential compounds can open up.

But while some people were allowed out on Tuesday, there was still confusion about how freely they could move, with many awaiting permission from their residential committees.

Officials say daily infection rates were likely to remain high in the next few days, with Shanghai still struggling to get to grips with China’s biggest outbreak since the coronavirus was discovered in late 2019 in the central city of Wuhan.

Amid concerns about the tough curbs, the US State Department ordered non-emergency government workers to leave its consulate in Shanghai.

Bosch suspended output at sites in Shanghai and the city of Changchun in COVID-hit Jilin province, while putting two other plants – one in Shanghai and another in neighbouring Taicang – under “closed-loop” operation, with workers isolated inside.

Pegatron said it halted operations at its plants in Shanghai and neighbouring Kunshan.

Nomura estimates that as many as 45 cities in China are now implementing either full or partial lockdowns, making up 26.4 per cent of the country’s population and 40.3 per cent of its GDP.

Premier Li Keqiang warned on Monday that China needed to be “highly vigilant” against further downward economic pressures and said the fight against COVID-19 needed to be “co-ordinated” with economic and social development.

On Monday, Shanghai’s total new asymptomatic cases fell 11 per cent from a day earlier to 22,348, with confirmed symptomatic cases rising to 994 from 914.

-Reuters