After only three positive COVID-19 cases were found in China’s largest and most populated city, Shanghai canceled more than 30% of flights to and from the city on Friday.
Shanghai’s three-month COVID-free run has been broken, provoking a huge response from local health officials in an attempt to contain the outbreak.
Flights between Shanghai and Beijing have not yet been impacted, according to state-run news sites, but the Chinese dictatorship has gone to tremendous efforts to protect the capital and could yet put a protective ring around Beijing by cutting off the country’s economic powerhouse.
Shanghai had not recorded a single community illness from August 26 until Thursday, when the latest cases were reported. The city has initiated a mass testing campaign, swabbing over 55,000 potential contacts of the three positive cases thus far.
The three women, all in their thirties, had traveled to Suzhou, Jiangsu Province, China, earlier this month in a group. They’ve been taken to the hospital, and approximately 30 confirmed close relatives have been quarantined in the central quarantine facility.
The women flew from Beijing to Shanghai and could have spread disease throughout their journey.
Because of the epidemic, nine hospitals in Shanghai shut down outpatient and emergency medical services on Friday.
Staff members at the hospital have been placed in ‘closed loop’ isolation, which means they must go into quarantine between shifts. On Friday, an employee delivered birth while under closed-loop quarantine.
Even as other countries around the world open up and begin to learn to live with the virus, China has followed a Zero COVID approach.
Other Zero COVID countries, including Australia, have abandoned the plan due to the Delta variation, but China has managed to contain epidemics even when faced with highly transmissible variants.
China has the authority to impose mandatory mass testing, and guests to Shanghai’s Disney Resort were recently denied entry until they were tested for COVID-19 after close contact with a proven infection visited the park the day before.
As part of pandemic preparedness, Chinese authorities can quarantine entire neighborhoods and restrict public transportation at any time.