Omicron Forces Shanghai To Impose Two-Part Lockdown

The Omicron-fueled outbreak in China has forced Shanghai to impose a two-part lockdown in hopes of curbing transmissions and containing the situation. 

Over the weekend, Chinese officials announced that the city of Shanghai would be implementing a two-part lockdown starting this week. Home to more than 25 million people, the city will be divided into two starting March 28. 

Shanghai’s Two-Part Lockdown

For the first part of the new emergency protocol, the eastern division will be closed off from Monday to Friday. For the second part, the western half will lock down starting April 1, Medical Xpress reported. 

Officials came up with the decision after China recorded its highest caseloads since the early days of the pandemic in late 2019. The country’s National Health Commission reported more than 4,500 new domestic transmissions Sunday, down by more than 1,000 cases from the previous day but still higher than the usual double-digit daily tallies in the past two years. 

Shanghai is not the only city to implement a lockdown in China since many affected areas across the country launched citywide lockdowns way before it did. 

China’s second-largest city by population had tried to avoid a full lockdown since cases in the country began to surge. Officials said it was necessary to keep the financial hub and eastern Chinese port operating for the good of both the national and global economies.

But last week, officials witnessed the impact of the omicron wave when Shanghai became the epicenter of China’s worst coronavirus outbreak, with Nikkei Asia reporting that the city resembled a ghost town on Friday. 

A New Approach

China’s national government previously kept the situation under control through strict zero-tolerance measures, including mass lockdowns of entire cities and provinces, even if reported cases were not that high then. 

Shanghai, for its part, had prevented a citywide lockdown by opting for a targeted approach that involved rolling 48-hour lockdowns of individual neighborhoods, along with large-scale testing. Local officials chose to do this to keep the city running. But the softer strategy only led residents to air their grievances online, among other issues. 

Under the new emergency protocol, Shanghai will be closing cross-river bridges and tunnels and highway tollbooths in the eastern district this week. The western part will then impose similar restrictions between April 1 and 5, as per The Guardian.

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