Shanghai will build an isolation facility that can house thousands of people near the centre of the city, adding to signs that China is unlikely to shift away from zero-Covid-19 any time soon despite the policy’s heavy cost. 

The facility will be constructed on an area covering about 14ha on Fuxing Island, which lies to the east of Shanghai’s business district, and will have 3,250 beds when it is completed.

The 1.38 billion yuan (S$272 million) project was awarded to state-owned China Communications Construction, according to a bidding document published on a government tendering platform.

Shanghai, which endured a brutal two-month shutdown earlier this year, is ramping up its pandemic infrastructure as flare-ups persist despite repeated mass testing and ad hoc lockdowns to stamp out transmission.

China reported 247 new infections for Tuesday, including 204 domestic cases, according to figures released by the National Health Commission. Of the latest infections, only one was detected in Shanghai.

Caixin reported Shanghai is recruiting hundreds of community workers, who usually man testing stations or coordinate lockdown logistics, for two-year contracts, adding to signs zero-Covid-19 will continue for at least the near term.

Over the weekend, Chinese President Xi Jinping defended the zero-tolerance approach in his opening speech at the twice-a-decade party congress, where he is expected to secure a precedent-breaking third term in power. The policy has saved lives, Mr Xi said, while avoiding mentioning the economic toll.

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By Mo Xia