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Shanghai Tightens COVID Restrictions Even as Cases Drop to a Six-Week Low

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Shanghai reported its fewest Covid-19 cases in more than six weeks, though a tightening of curbs indicates the lockdown that has confined millions of residents to their homes for more than a month won’t be eased soon.

The financial hub reported 3,947 cases for Sunday, down slightly from 3,975 new infections on Saturday, CCTV reported.

On the weekend, Premier Li Keqiang warned of a “complicated and grave” employment situation as Beijing and Shanghai bolstered restrictions on residents in a bid to contain virus outbreaks in China’s most important cities — in line with President Xi Jinping’s stringent Covid Zero policy.

Li instructed all government departments and regions to prioritize measures aimed at helping businesses retain jobs and weather the current difficulties, according to a statement late Saturday, which cited the premier’s comments in a nationwide teleconference on employment.

Read More: Global Shortages Loom as China’s Lockdowns Continue

In Shanghai, despite the COVID wave easing, authorities are stepping up efforts to quarantine close contacts of people who test positive for the virus.

Those living in the same building as confirmed cases now also risk being transported to government-run quarantine facilities, according to local residents and widely circulated social media posts. Previously, only people living in the same apartment or the same floor as positive cases would likely be considered close contacts and put into isolation.

In Beijing, officials on Sunday required all residents in its eastern district of Chaoyang — home to embassies and offices of multinationals including Apple Inc. and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. — to start working from home. This followed an order to shut down some businesses providing non-essential services such as gyms and movie theaters in the district to minimize infections.

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