SHANGHAI, China: As Shanghai reports no new cases of Covid for the first time in two months, Shanghai's top communist party leader declared victory over COVID-19, while in Beijing officials said it will reopen primary and secondary schools.
As part of China's earlier efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19, from March to May the two cities put in place curbs to stop the spread of the Omicron variant, with Shanghai imposing a two month city-wide lockdown that ended on 1st June.
While the heavy-handed measures brought case numbers down, many have caused anger and even rare protests among residents and adversely affected the economy.
In early March, amidst a spike in locally transmitted cases, Beijing closed schools and asked students to move to online learning. Senior year students at middle and high schools were allowed to return to classes from 2nd June.
Last week, with case numbers trending lower in recent days, the capital's education commission said kindergartens will be allowed to reopen from 4th July, and all primary and secondary school students in Beijing can return to in-person classes beginning this week.
On 24th June, Shanghai reported no new local cases, for the first time since 23rd February.
At the opening of the city's party congress, Shanghai Communist Party chief Li Qiang said that authorities had "won the war to defend Shanghai" against COVID-19 by implementing the instructions of Chinese President Xi Jinping, adding that Beijing's epidemic prevention decisions were "completely correct."
However, the city remains on edge, with many students not being allowed to resume in-person classes and dining indoors is still prohibited.
Shanghai also plans to conduct mass PCR testing for its 25 million residents every weekend until the end of July.