China reported a record daily number of Covid-19 infections on Thursday, as the number of cases across the country continues to rise, underscoring the country’s growing zero-tolerance approach to the virus.
The National Health Commission (NHC) reported 31,444 local infections on Wednesday, surpassing the 29,317 reported on April 13 during Shanghai’s months-long lockdown.
The rise is fueled by outbreaks in many cities, where authorities have refused to end strict infection control despite unprecedented opposition to draconian approaches such as permanent lockdowns, quarantines and public testing mandates.
At the same time, the number of Covid-related deaths continues to rise, adding additional pressure to the mix. Beijing recorded its fourth Covid-related death since last weekend and 1,648 local infections on Wednesday, the third day in a row of more than 1,000 local cases.
On Thursday, city officials announced that a large exhibition center was being turned into a temporary hospital to quarantine and treat people with Covid-19.
It was the latest sign that the capital is tightening its grip on Covid. Earlier this week, several district schools moved classes online, while Chaoyang, home to the city’s epicenter of the outbreak and international business and embassies, urged residents to stay home and close restaurants, gyms and beauty salons.
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China, the world’s last major economy, continues to impose tough measures against Covid-19 and earlier this month announced a limited easing of policies, which some observers saw as a sign that the government was acknowledging its shortcomings.
It rejected unnecessary mass testing, overzealous classification of limited “high-risk” areas, lifted quarantine requirements for secondary close contacts, and eased quarantines for relatives and international arrivals.
After the announcement, several Chinese cities canceled public testing for Covid, but there are still a dizzying number of restrictions on driving for residents, especially during the outbreak.
In a country where authorities have traditionally suppressed signs of protest, signs that people have had enough are growing louder, with rare protests taking place.
Protests broke out this week in Zhengzhou, the world’s largest iPhone assembly plant. Videos on social media showed workers clashing with port police after authorities tried to lock down the facility following the outbreak. It comes a week after some residents of Guangzhou’s southern industrial hub broke down barriers and marched through the streets to protest an extended lockdown.
Recurring issues such as lack of access to medical care, lack of access to food and supplies, and loss of jobs and income fuel the anger of the locked-out community.
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