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SHANGHAI: Chinese authorities on Tuesday extended a lockdown in Shanghai to cover all of the financial centre’s 26 million people, despite growing anger over quarantine rules in the city, where latest results show only 268 symptomatic daily COVID-19 cases.

In a major test of China’s zero-tolerance strategy to eliminate the novel coronavirus, the government widened the lockdown to eastern parts of the city and extended until further notice restrictions in western districts, which had been due to expire on Tuesday. The broader lockdown came after testing saw asymptomatic COVID-19 cases surge to more than 13,000. Symptomatic cases fell on Monday to 268, from 425 the previous day.

As a growing number of members of the public shared comments and videos across social media expressing frustration with the blanket lockdown, authorities showed no sign of wavering.

“Shanghai’s epidemic prevention and control is at the most difficult and most critical stage,” Wu Qianyu, an official with the municipal health commission, told a briefing.

Shanghai to extend lockdown

“We must adhere to the general policy of dynamic clearance without hesitation, without wavering.”

Shanghai’s quarantine policy has been criticised for separating children from parents and putting asymptomatic cases among those with symptoms. Wu did not comment on the uproar over family separations. On Monday she insisted that children who tested positive had to be kept apart.

One temporary treatment centre opened a 1,000-bed section for treating parents and children, the Shanghai Children Medical Center said on its social media account, but it was not clear if the new section indicated a wider change of policy.

Shanghai residents organised an online petition calling for asymptomatic children to be allowed to isolate at home, with at least 1,000 people signing but as of Tuesday, it was no longer accessible on the WeChat messaging app.

The city has set up about 47,700 beds in a number of newly built temporary hospitals in Shanghai, with another 30,000 being readied, state news agency Xinhua reported on Tuesday, citing Gu Honghui, deputy secretary general of the municipal government.

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