Lhasa is partially resuming normal life after a month of its first major COVID-19 battle

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Residents of Lhasa, capital of southwest China’s Xizang Autonomous Region (Tibet), stand in line to take COVID-19 nucleic acid tests on August 9, 2022. Photo: VCG

After more than a month of the first large-scale fight against COVID-19, Lhasa in southwest China’s Xizang Autonomous Region has partially resumed normal production and work, with wards being relaxed in phases.

Scattered customers wearing masks were pleased to show up at supermarkets, pharmacies and restaurants in some parts of low-risk streets and communities in Lhasa, amid the city’s decision to gradually lift COVID-19 restrictions after government measures were lifted Disease control had achieved success, local media reported.

Data released Tuesday afternoon by the Xizang Health Commission showed the region had reported 16 confirmed and 160 asymptomatic cases the previous day and another 51 asymptomatic cases on Tuesday. The number of new cases in recent weeks has remained low, in line with the number of cases in the first outbreak in August.

An official local government notice said businesses in low-risk areas, including supermarkets and pharmacies, could open their doors to customers. Residents could leave their communities with permits.

Several Lhasa residents reached by the Global Times said people were excited to hear the news. The owner of a photo shop in Lhasa told the Global Times that he looks forward to opening his shop soon as Xizang’s tourism season approaches next month.

Goods, including groceries and other daily necessities, can basically meet the needs of residents, thanks to the full support of the local government to ensure adequate supplies.

Work in the first low-risk regions in Lhasa resumed as early as September 8th. Local media reported that about 74 businesses such as hair salons, restaurants and supermarkets had opened their shops in a township of Chengguan District.

Local officials said at Tuesday’s news conference that about 73 construction programs had resumed work. To ease the financial burden on some small and individual businesses, the local government cut rents by more than 236 million yuan ($33 million) for more than 3,000 tenants.

However, the city remains cautious about lifting restrictions entirely. Tourist sites and restaurants remain closed. According to the announcement, the schools have not resumed classes.

Meanwhile, in another city in Xizang, the Xigaze government announced on Monday that the city had reached dynamic zero cases among municipalities as the recent new COVID-19 cases were all from quarantined groups. After extensive evaluation, Xigaze will also gradually resume work in batches.

However, Xigaze local government stressed that reaching zero dynamic cases does not mean the risk of COVID-19 has been eliminated. The epidemic prevention and control situation remains bleak and complex, and the risk of covert transmission remains. Efforts should continue to protect the hard-won gains of disease control until final success is achieved, local authorities stressed.

The Xizang region recorded 22 COVID-19 cases as of Aug. 7, ending the region’s 920-day case-free record. Static management was then introduced in both Xigaze and Lhasa.

The cases detected in Lhasa were believed to be a familial cluster infection caused by the imported Omicron subvariant BA.2.76.

Huang Ziting contributed to the story

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