Shanghai scrapped more than 30 per cent of flights to and from the city on Friday after just three positive COVID-19 cases were detected in what is China’s largest and most populous city. The infections break Shanghai’s three-month COVID free streak, prompting a massive response from local health officials in an attempt to tamp down the outbreak.
According to state-run news outlets, flights between Shanghai and Beijing haven’t yet been affected but the Chinese regime has gone to great lengths to protect the capital and could still throw a protective ring around Beijing by cutting off the country’s economic powerhouse.
Until Thursday, when the latest cases were reported, Shanghai hadn’t reported a single community infection since August 26. The city has launched a mass testing drive and has so far swabbed more than 55,000 possible contacts of the three positive cases.
The three women are all aged in their thirties and had travelled together to Suzhou in China’s Jiangsu Province earlier this month. They have been transferred to the hospital, while nearly 30 confirmed close contacts have been placed in central quarantine.
The women travelled on flights to Shanghai via Beijing and could have been infectious during their travels.
Nine hospitals across Shanghai suspended outpatient and emergency medical services on Friday because of the outbreak. Hospital staff have been placed into ‘closed loop’ isolation meaning that they must go into quarantine in between shifts. A staffer gave birth during her closed-loop quarantine on Friday.
China has pursued a Zero COVID strategy even as more and more countries around the world begin to open up and start learning to live with the virus. The Delta variant has made other Zero COVID countries like Australia abandon the strategy but China has managed to stamp out outbreaks even when faced with highly transmissible variants.
China is able to order mandatory mass testing and only recently, visitors to Shanghai’s Disney Resort weren’t allowed to leave until they had been tested for COVID-19 because a close contact of a confirmed infection had visited the park the day before.
The Chinese authorities are also able to put entire neighbourhoods into quarantine and suspend public transit at a moments notice as part of pandemic controls.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.