Shanghai outbreak poses big test for Xi Jinping’s Covid-zero policy

President Xi Jinping faces a critical test of his zero Covid strategy this week as Shanghai attempts to rein in an outbreak of largely asymptomatic cases without resorting to the draconian lockdowns routinely employed across the rest of China.

Chinese health authorities reported on Sunday that 5,702 new cases had been discovered the previous day, about 80 per cent of them asymptomatic. Shanghai, with a population of 26mn, reported 2,631 asymptomatic cases, accounting for about 60 per cent of China’s asymptomatic total.

In their effort to control the outbreak, Shanghai officials have tried to implement targeted lockdowns of relatively small districts while also urging residents to self-diagnose with recently approved rapid antigen tests.

A member of Shanghai’s Covid task force said on Saturday that calls for a relatively brief citywide lockdown of three to seven days were misguided because of the “important role [we play] in national economic…

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