China's Shenzhen plans 'orderly' work resumption as COVID vigilance continues


The major Chinese technology hub of Shenzhen will allow its firms to resume work in an "orderly" manner after the suspension of non-essential businesses in an effort to contain an outbreak of COVID-19, a city official said Thursday.

Shenzhen, which is close to Hong Kong, saw local confirmed transmissions pick up to 71 on Wednesday from 55 the previous day. While the outbreak is small by international standards, authorities are leaving nothing to chance.

"On condition that the epidemic prevention and control work is done well, enterprises will resume production in an orderly way based on region and category," said Huang Qiang, deputy-secretary general of the Shenzhen municipal government, at a news briefing, without providing details or specific timeline.

"We should be aware that the new daily case numbers so far still remained relatively high," he added. "There must be no loosening or slacking in virus control and prevention work."

Shenzhen is planning to test all of its residents three times during March 14-17. It has also suspended buses and subways as well as all non-essential economic activity in a week-long containment programme it described as "slow living". Supermarkets, pharmacies and medical institutions were among the only businesses allowed to open.

Major firms in the city are already feeling the effects. Apple Inc supplier Foxconn plans to put its Shenzhen campus in a COVID-19 "bubble" that will allow it to resume production until at least Sunday, according to an internal document seen by Reuters. 

Logistics company United Parcel Service Inc UPS.N also suspended all pickup, delivery and self pickup services in Shenzhen and neighbouring Dongguan after strict restrictions were imposed to curb the outbreak. 

Mainland China's total local symptomatic COVID-19 cases declined for a second consecutive day on Thursday, after a flare-up in the northeast - the worst since China's first outbreak in 2020 centred on Wuhan - grew at a slower pace.

China reported 1,226 new domestically transmitted COVID-19 infections with confirmed symptoms on March 16, data from the National Health Commission showed, down from 1,860 a day earlier. It marks the fifth day of over 1,000 such cases on the mainland.

China's current case wave is still tiny by global standards, but national officials have warned that virus control is becoming increasingly difficult with more than two dozen regions reporting infections recently. They called for various measures under the "dynamic" zero-COVID policy to be implemented more strictly and vigilantly.

The province of Jilin reported 742 new local symptomatic infections on Wednesday, down from 1,456 the prior day.

The number of domestically transmitted new asymptomatic cases, which China does not classify as confirmed cases, stood at 1,206 compared with 1,194 a day earlier.

There were no new deaths, leaving the death toll unchanged at 4,636. As of March 16, mainland China had reported 123,773 cases with confirmed symptoms, including both local ones and those arriving from outside the mainland.

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