China promised to try to reduce the human and economic cost of anti-disease controls, saying the virus was “under effective control” for the first time in some parts of the city.

Shanghai shut down businesses and confined most of its population to their homes starting March 28 after a spike in infections.
Shanghai shut down businesses and confined most of its population to their homes starting March 28 after a spike in infections. (AFP)

Shanghai has allowed four million more people out of their homes as anti-virus controls that shut down China's biggest city eased.

A total of almost 12 million people are allowed to go outdoors following the first round of easing last week, health official Wu Ganyu said at a news conference on Wednesday. 

Wu said the virus was “under effective control” for the first time in some parts of the city of 25 million.

Under the latest changes, more than four million people are included in areas where the status shifted from closed to controlled, said Wu. 

He said some are not allowed to leave their neighbourhoods and large gatherings are prohibited.

China’s case numbers in its latest infection surge are relatively low, but the ruling party is enforcing a “zero-Covid” strategy that has shut down major cities to isolate every case.

READ MORE: Shanghai sees first Covid deaths since China locked down city

IMF warns of disruption of the global flow

Meanwhile, the IMF reduced its forecast of Chinese growth this year to 4.4 percent from 4.8 percent due to the shutdowns of Shanghai and other industrial centres. 

That is down by almost half from last year's 8.1 percent growth and below the ruling Communist Party's 5.5 percent target.

Official data this week showed economic growth in the first three months of this year declined compared with the final quarter of 2021.

The lockdowns in China "will likely compound supply disruptions elsewhere” and might add to pressure for inflation to rise, the IMF said in a report.

The ruling party has promised tax refunds and other aid to businesses but is avoiding large-scale stimulus spending.

Economists say that strategy will take longer to show results and Beijing might need to spend more or cut interest rates.

READ MORE: Sinopharm to start clinical trials of Omicron specific Covid-19 vaccines

Source: AP