1 of 3 | A girl takes a COVID-19 test in a residential community under lockdown in Shanghai, China, on Saturday. Shanghai has relaxed its lockdown, with a total of 12 million of the city's 25 million people allowed to leave their homes. Photo by Alex Plavevski/EPA-EFE
April 20 (UPI) -- Shanghai has relaxed the strict COVID-19 lockdown, allowing 4 million more people to leave their homes.
That brings the total number of Shanghai residents freed from the lockdown to 12 million, according to health official Wu Ganyu. Shanghai's population is 25 million.
The Chinese government reported 19,927 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, with Shanghai accounting for 95% of the total.
Shanghai health commissioner Wu Jinglei was hospitalized Wednesday with a migraine headache, according to the South China Morning Post, citing two un-named local government officials.
"Wu is well regarded in Shanghai," said Meng Tianying, a senior executive at Shanghai-based consultancy Domo Medical. "His expertise and knowledge [about public health management] are still badly needed in Shanghai's battle against the virus."
On Monday, Shanghai officials reported the first COVID-19 deaths since the city imposed the major new lockdown restrictions in March.
Three people, all of advanced age and unvaccinated, died in a hospital, according to the Shanghai Health Commission.
A new wave of COVID-19 Omicron infections started in the city in February. In response, Shanghai shut down businesses and ordered a lockdown forcing residents to stay in their homes.
Throughout the Shanghai lockdown the port has stayed open, according to Mandarin Shipping founder Tim Huxley. But economic disruptions have been caused by the strict COVID-19 lockdown.
Huxley told CNBC China's shipping industry could come back strong in the final days of April.
The lockdown is part of COVID Zero policy in China. Those measures have disrupted supply chains, hurting the Chinese economy.