The Chinese city of Shenzhen has lifted a week-long lockdown – while retaining some restrictions – as city officials say the spread of the coronavirus is “being brought under control”. Bloomberg said that in a notice posted on WeChat (a Chinese messaging service) on Sunday, the Shenzhen administration said “while the city’s Covid situation is still grim, the spread within the community has stopped and is, on the whole, controllable”.
City officials will allow government agencies and businesses to resume normal operations and production, the notice said, and citywide bus and subway services will also resume.
Factories will also be allowed to resume work. Shenzhen is home to some of China’s biggest companies, including telecommunications giant Huawei.
The advisory comes after three rounds of citywide testing, state broadcaster CCTV said, and is effective between March 21 and March 27.
Eight days ago, Shenzhen – a financial and technology hub of nearly 18 million people located near Hong Kong, where cases have also increased – was locked down after China reported an increase in Covid cases caused by the highly transmissible omicron variant.
Read more: Morning brief: China reports first Covid deaths since January 2021, and all the latest news
All bus and metro systems were closed, as were businesses (except those providing emergency services) and people were encouraged to work from home.
China’s overall case count is low compared to other Southeast Asian countries, but the Xi Jinping government’s “zero tolerance” strategy has resulted in swift action to eradicate potential outbreaks, including the closure of major cities like Shenzhen and Shanghai.
The Chinese mainland reported 2,027 new cases on Sunday, down from 1,737 the day before.
XI Jinping said China would “seek to minimize economic and social disruption to the economy through its ‘Covid zero’ policy”.
On Friday, China announced its first deaths from Covid-19 since January 2021 as the highly contagious variant of omicron spreads across the country. According to the National Health Commission, the deaths were reported in Jilin.
Globally, Covid-19 deaths have fallen by a fifth despite the resurgence of the pandemic; AFP reports that the average number of daily infections has increased by 12% worldwide in one week.