In a significant reprieve for Shanghai’s residents, the city reported no new Covid-19 cases outside of its quarantine areas on Friday.
Reports of no fresh Covid cases from areas not under quarantine has given hope to residents of a possible relaxation from a stringent five-week lockdown before the end of China’s annual May Day holiday.
This has emerged after the financial hub reported 9,970 infections on Thursday – an upward rise of 108 cases – and 52 deaths.
On Saturday, authorities said Shanghai had close to 16,000 sealed-off areas, with more than 4 million people prevented from leaving their homes. A further 5.4 million people were blocked from leaving their compounds.
Experts have cast doubt over the milestone noting that many of the residents were in some form of quarantine.
“The city’s epidemic and prevention control is currently still at a critical state, and the trend is still that people need to strengthen controls,” said Zhao Dandan, deputy director of Shanghai‘s health commission.
“Let us all hold fast to this hard-won level of defence we have reached.”
The milestone was cheered by the city’s residents on social media. “Shanghai sees zero-Covid transmission at the community level” trended with more than 190,000 views on Saturday morning on the Weibo platform.
“Shanghai has finally reached zero at the community level!!! May Shanghai wake up as soon as possible!!” said a post from one netizen.
“There is hope that we can be released after the May holiday,” said another, referring to China’s Labour Day break between 30 April and 4 May when spring moves into summer.
The holiday season is traditionally one of China’s busiest tourist seasons, but this year it is expected to take a huge hit due to the virus.
Scenes of homes and buildings in China’s most populous city being caged to prevent residents from leaving have grabbed global headlines since the outbreak in March.
The strict lockdowns in China – which mean anyone who is infected with the virus must be sent to a state-run quarantine centre, while others at home are barred from going out – have sparked anger and frustration.
People who have been cooped up at home have complained of shortages of food and other daily necessities.
Additional reporting by agencies