Shanghai reopens after suppressing COVID-19: a triumph for science and public health

China’s largest city, Shanghai, largely reopened on Wednesday morning after two months of lockdown that staved off an outbreak of the virulent virus subvariant, Omicron B.2. This event is a triumph of health mobilization because the epidemic which reached a peak of nearly 30,000 infections per day in mid-April, claimed the lives of less than 600 people, most of them elderly and unvaccinated.

During those two months, most offices, factories and other workplaces were closed, although production continued in some key industries where workers huddled in factories and rarely went out, a process known as closed circuit system. Schools moved to online education, public transport was virtually passengerless and the few stores that remained open could only supply goods delivered to homes. The city itself has been cut off from the rest of the country, with visitors only allowed to enter after two weeks of quarantine.

Most residents have stayed at home, with the Internet as their primary link to the outside world. Deliveries of food and other necessities were organized through the country’s vast networks of housing blocks and neighborhood committees, later supplanted by the government.

Nearly a million passengers rode the subway to work on Wednesday as shops and malls quickly opened for a brisk business resumption. Nearly 330,000 cars were circulating in the streets of the city. Shanghai’s iconic Yuyuan Garden mall has reopened and is operating under normal hours. Supermarkets have been opened to local customers. Even Shanghai’s main automaker, SAIC Motor, said it was producing at 80 percent capacity.

More than 22.5 million residents (90 percent of Shanghai’s population) now live in low-risk neighborhoods, meaning those sections have been declared infection-free for more than two weeks. Bi-weekly PCR tests are rigorously continued and the health system remains on high alert. As one resident remarked South China Morning Post“the sirens and the noise of the vehicles have returned to the level before the confinement, but it is the Shanghai that we know, good or bad”.

It is impossible to overestimate the political significance of Shanghai’s successful fight against COVID. There is no more debate to be had on the policy to be carried out to protect the world population from this deadly virus.

As Marx’s second and justly famous Thesis on Feuerbach declares: “The question whether human thought should be recognized as an objective truth is not a theoretical question, but a practical one. It is in practice that man must prove the truth, that is to say the reality, and the power of his thought, in this world and for our time.

The example of China proves that zero-COVID is effective, even against the most contagious variant to appear to date. Shanghai’s outbreak apparently had two causes: infections from outside China, inevitable given the city’s role in the global economy, and lax enforcement of the zero-COVID policy by officials. city, which Beijing halted after the number of infections began to soar.

The COVID-19 curve in China since March 1 (Source: WSWS media)