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China’s largest city has ordered its schools to return to online classes amid a spike in COVID-19 cases nearly three years after the pandemic began.

Shanghai’s education bureau announced Saturday that in-person classes would be held online beginning next week after 2,286 symptomatic coronavirus cases were confirmed on China’s mainland on Friday.

Childcare centers and nurseries will also shut down on Monday, the agency said.

The spike in cases comes after China earlier this month began lifting its COVID-19 restrictions, which were some of the strictest in the world. The move to abandon the “Zero-Covid” policy followed widespread public protests sparked by a deadly apartment fire in Urumqi.

Meanwhile, cases continue to rise although the true scope remains unknown because China no longer counts asymptomatic cases and has abandoned its PCR testing system.

China has not recorded a death since Dec. 4, but some say fatalities are rising and could surge in the coming year. Funeral homes in Beijing are reportedly busier than normal, and struggling to keep up with demand as more workers test positive for the coronavirus.

A model by the U.S.-based Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluations predicts that deaths in China could top one million in 2023.

Students arrive at Shanghai No. 3 Girls' Middle School on June 6, 2022 in Shanghai, China. High school students in their second year and third year returned to campus in Shanghai starting from Monday after nearly three months' online classes.
COVID-19 cases continue to rise in mainland China.

Despite the rise in COVID-19, Chinas has not recorded a coronavirus death since Dec. 4.


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A QR code is seen at a subway station in Shanghai, China, December 7, 2022.
The bureau also announced childcare centers and nurseries will shut down.

Students queue up to enter an exam site of the 2022 senior high school entrance examination in Minhang District of east China's Shanghai, July 11, 2022.
China initially began lifting COVID-19 restrictions after public backlash.


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The agency’s director, Christopher Murray, said that cases would peak around April 1 when deaths are expected to reach 322,000.

So far, China has reported just 5,235 deaths since the start of the pandemic, but Murray suggested the nation’s deaths have been underreported.

“China has since the original Wuhan outbreak barely reported any deaths. That is why we looked to Hong Kong to get an idea of the infection fatality rate,” Murray said Friday.

In comparison, the UK has had more than 200,000 deaths and Italy has reported over 180,000 deaths. More than 1.1 million Americans have died from the virus.

With Post wires

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