The city of Shanghai tightened its coronavirus pandemic restrictions after a brief easing period, exasperating residents who hoped more than a month of lockdown would finally be eased as the number of new cases in China’s financial hub fell.

On Tuesday, service was suspended on the last two subway lines still in operation, marking the first time the entire city system has been shut down, according to The Paper, an online news outlet.

Teams in protective suits have been entering the homes of people infected with coronavirus to spray disinfectant, causing fears among some about damaging clothes and valuables, and about leaving their keys with a community volunteer when they are brought into quarantine — a new requirement for workers with disinfectant to enter.

In some areas, people have been ordered to stay home again for a “quiet period” after being allowed to go out for limited purchases in recent weeks,

The “zero COVID strategy”, as many countries loosen their restrictions and try to live with the virus, is taking an economic and human toll. Extreme measures have been applied to control outbreaks because the omicron variant spreads very quickly. The ruling Communist Party, with its sights set on the party’s congress in the fall, has given no indication that it will loosen its restrictions in the immediate future.

Most of the metropolis of 25 million people remains confined to their apartments or residential complexes, although there has been some relaxation in suburban areas with no new community cases. An Associated Press video recorded on Monday showed an empty and silent city, with only one car on the street and a few food delivery men on motorcycles.

The daily number of cases in the city dipped to around 3,000 on Monday, from a peak of 26,000 in mid-April. China’s largest city also reported six new deaths related to COVID-19, bringing the total number of deaths from the outbreak to 553.

The country’s capital, Beijing, began another three-day round of mass testing for the virus on Tuesday for millions of residents, in a bid to prevent an active outbreak from reaching the magnitude of the one in Shanghai. The city, which registered 74 new cases on Monday, has isolated buildings and residential complexes, closed some 60 subway stations and banned eating in restaurants, which can only offer takeout and delivery.


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