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Shanghai ramps up COVID testing; lockdowns extended elsewhere

China commercial hub plans mass testing in many of its 16 districts

With Shanghai yet to fully recover from a harsh, two-month lockdown in the spring, residents line up to be tested for COVID on July 12.   © Reuters

SHANGHAI/BEIJING (Reuters) -- Several large Chinese cities including Shanghai are on their toes due to new COVID-19 outbreaks, rolling out repeated mass testing or extending lockdowns on millions of residents, with some measures triggering public outcries.

China has reported an average of around 390 local daily infections in the seven days ending on Sunday, higher than about 340 seven days earlier, according to Reuters calculations based on official data as of Monday. That is tiny compared with surges in other parts of Asia.

Still, any flare-up unnerves local officials, with China adamant about implementing its dynamic zero COVID policy as soon as outbreaks emerge and punishing officials if they fail to do so.

The commercial hub Shanghai, which has yet to fully recover from the harsh two-month lockdown in spring and is still reporting daily sporadic cases, said on Monday it plans to hold mass testing in many of its 16 districts and in some smaller areas where new infections had been reported recently, after similar testing last week.

"There is still an epidemic risk at the community level so far," the city government said in a statement.

Shanghai reported more than a dozen new cases but none was found outside quarantined areas, local government data showed on Monday.

"I'm speechless," said a Shanghai resident surnamed Wang, already subject to testing every weekend at her residential compound. "It sounds like a waste of resources that doesn't address the real problem."

The northern city of Tianjin, which launched multiple rounds of mass testing in recent months to curb earlier outbreaks, said on Monday it is again testing its more than 12 million residents, after two local infections were found.

In the central Chinese city of Zhumadian, lockdowns for more than a million people in two towns under its jurisdiction are extended for a few days until Tuesday. Temporary lockdowns for over 3 million in four other towns have been extended to Monday. Zhumadian continues to report dozens of cases daily despite curbs last week.

The capital Beijing, which reported zero local infections during July 11-17, closed up a residential compound on Monday as authorities proceeded to check on two suspected infections.

Authorities in the southern region of Guangxi said late on Sunday they removed two officials in the city of Beihai from their jobs for acting poorly in their COVID response.

The city of Beihai, with a population of 1.9 million and currently clocking over 500 infections, has launched multiple rounds of mass testing and locked down some areas.

As of Sunday, over 2,000 tourists were stuck in the city.

In the southern city of Guangzhou, COVID control staffers broke down the locks of apartment doors without residents' consent, stirring an outcry on social media over the weekend.

Authorities in one district in Guangzhou on Monday apologized to residents.

The issue was among the top 10 list of topics trending on China's Twitter-like social media Weibo.

"It's too horrifying, too ridiculous," wrote a Weibo user. "No humanity, no law."

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