Europe 1 with AFP 3:35 p.m., May 17, 2022, modified at 3:36 p.m., May 17, 2022

"All of Shanghai's 16 districts have reached zero Covid in society," Zhao Dandan, vice director of municipal health services, announced on Tuesday.

Clearly, the approximately 1,000 new cases detected in the last 24 hours have all been detected in quarantine establishments and not in the general population.

“Zero Covid”: Shanghai indicated on Tuesday that it had overcome the coronavirus (excluding quarantine establishments), an announcement quickly mocked on the internet, because a large part of the 25 million inhabitants remain confined.

China is facing its worst outbreak since the start of the pandemic.

It is also the last major planetary economy to remain isolated from the rest of the world with anti-Covid restrictions.

To face this wave of the potentially fatal Omicron variant for the many unvaccinated seniors, Shanghai, by far the most affected city, placed all the inhabitants under confinement in early April.

But the difficulties of access to fresh produce and non-Covid health care have aroused strong discontent, and in some cases even scuffles with the authorities.

"All of Shanghai's 16 districts have reached zero Covid in society," Zhao Dandan, vice director of municipal health services, announced on Tuesday.

Clearly, the approximately 1,000 new cases detected in the last 24 hours have all been detected in quarantine establishments and not in the general population.

3.8 million inhabitants still under confinement

The authorities had announced on Sunday a “step-by-step” reopening of businesses from this week, without however specifying the extent.

According to the town hall, only 3.8 million inhabitants are still placed in a harsh form of confinement, such as the ban on leaving their apartment or residential complex.

A figure that arouses the disbelief of many Internet users, convinced that many more people remain in reality confined.

"Are the authorities talking about the Shanghai of a parallel universe?", Writes a user of the social network Weibo, in tune with the general tone of the comments.

In some areas, however, restrictions have actually been eased.

Chinese media released footage Tuesday of a crowd of people queuing outside one of Shanghai's main railway stations as trains from the city resumed service.

Several airlines resumed domestic flights from Shanghai this week, after suspending them during the outbreak.

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New sub-variant

However, residents can only leave the metropolis with special authorization and several Covid tests.

China shows no willingness to relax its Covid control policy, despite the economic cost for businesses, tourism, car sales and the consequences on the unemployment rate.

The country has been living almost normally since 2020 thanks to its zero Covid strategy, which consists in particular of massive screenings, quarantines imposed on infected people and confinements as soon as a few cases appear.

Especially since the health authorities announced on Monday the detection of a first case due to the BA.2.12.1 sub-variant.

Reputed to be particularly contagious, widespread in particular in the United States, it was detected on a traveler from Kenya.

The capital Beijing tests a large part of its 22 million inhabitants daily, who still fear a harsh confinement "à la Shanghai".

The city only announces a few dozen new daily cases, but has already closed restaurants, bars, gymnasiums, parks and even sports halls and imposed telework.

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