Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post on Sunday reported that the Shanghai outbreak has slowed China’s shipbuilding plans and may affect the launch of the country’s third aircraft carrier.

The People’s Liberation Army navy had been widely expected to launch the new carrier around the navy’s 73rd anniversary, on April 23.

“But the plan faces delay as the rampant pandemic in Shanghai has delayed the transport of some key components,” the newspaper reported, quoting anonymous sources.

“Construction of the Type 003 has been under way at the Jiangnan Shipyard on Shanghai’s Changxing Island since 2017 and was expected to be ready for launch early this year,” the report said.

China reported 3,504 locally-transmitted confirmed Covid cases for April 16, the National Health Commission (NHC) said in its daily bulletin on Sunday. Of the total, 3,238 cases were reported in the financial hub of Shanghai.

Thirteen other provincial-level regions on the mainland saw new local Covid-19 cases, including the northeastern province of Jilin, which reported 167 cases.

The NHC report also said that mainland China reported a total of 22,512 local asymptomatic infections, of which 21,582 cases were in Shanghai, where millions continue to be locked down.

The proportion of infections among people at risk has declined in Shanghai where 16 patients are critical, Shanghai health authorities announced on Sunday.

New infections remain high but relatively stable, Wu Jinglei, director of Shanghai municipal health commission, said during a press briefing on Sunday.

It wasn’t clear if that means Shanghai will ease lockdown restrictions in the days ahead.

Wu added that the city will continue to adhere to the “dynamic zero-case” strategy through mass nucleic acid testing supplemented by antigen screening in key areas, trying to achieve the zero cases goal in the shortest time.

As of Friday, nearly 3.6 million Shanghai residents aged 60 or above have completed their vaccination programme, which is 62% of the elderly population, Wu said.

Local authorities in Shanghai issued the first edition of epidemic prevention guidelines for the city’s industrial enterprises to resume production on Saturday, a state media report said.

The guidelines, according to state-controlled Global Times, stipulated that all district governments and authorities at different levels should actively support enterprises to resume operations and guide their epidemic prevention work using a case-by-case approach.

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