China Covid cases top 10,000; Beijing highest in over a year



BEIJING: China’s daily Covid infections exceeded 10,000 for the first time since April, with Beijing’s cases at the highest level in more than a year, as the country’s top leaders urged more targeted restrictions aimed at controlling the virus.
The capital reported 114 new cases for Thursday, the municipal health commission said in a statement. Four of the infections were found outside the government-run quarantine system, stoking concern the virus continues to circulate within the community. Nationwide, there were 10,243 new infections, the highest since April 28.
In a meeting of the new Politburo Standing Committee chaired by President Xi Jinping, the members — appointed to the supreme leadership body at last month’s Communist Party congress — called for “more decisive” measures to control the virus and resume normal life and production as soon as possible, according to the Xinhua News Agency. The Covid situation “remains severe” as cases keep emerging, they said.
While the top leadership are backing a more targeted approach, a few hours after the meeting the southern metropolis of Guangzhou stepped up virus curbs in Haizhu district, one of three currently under lockdown. From Friday, private cars and taxis can’t operate unless they have approval, and one person from each household can only go out once a day to pick up groceries. Roads out of the district have been sealed and traffic is being tightly monitored, according to a government notice issued at 1 a.m. local time on Friday.
Haizhu is home to one of China’s largest garment wholesale markets, with over 20,000 fabric stores. The lockdown is disrupting deliveries of orders and many workers and workshops are based in urban villages including Lujiang, Kangle and Wufeng, where Covid outbreaks have happened in recent weeks, Nanfang Metropolis Daily reported.
Business disruptions
Chen Jie, a stall owner in the fabric market, said most of his employees live in nearby urban villages and now must work from home, receiving new orders from WeChat and organizing dispatches from warehouses outside Guangzhou. He also said they’re facing difficulties securing food. Online grocery sellers can’t deliver into locked down areas so people have to rely on government food supplies which aren’t sufficient, he said.
“What we are experiencing in the urban villages now reminds me of everything I read in the news about Shanghai amid its lockdown months ago, where access to food and medicines were big problems,” Chen said. Some of his employees have told him that officials are taking longer than usual to transfer Covid-positive neighbors to quarantine with cases rising, he said.
Despite the enduring outbreak that’s seen daily new infections top 2,500 again, Guangzhou has avoided a citywide lockdown. It’s unclear if the city’s moves portend a softening of the country’s Covid Zero policies or whether they reflect Beijing’s direction to minimize disruption caused by the curbs that are damaging the economy and stirring public unrest.
Zhengzhou, a city that was criticized by an inspector from China’s National Bureau of Disease Control and Prevention for using blanket shut downs instead of more precise curbs, recently lifted a district lockdown. Most businesses in the Airport Economy Zone can reopen and people are free to move, except those in areas deemed high risk which include the world’s largest iPhone factory.
City officials pledged to do better but now face the challenge of containing its outbreak without using the toughest of Covid curbs. Zhengzhou posted 2,988 new cases for Thursday, more than doubling from 1,405 the day before.
Elsewhere, Chongqing is facing a swelling outbreak, with 782 new infections detected. It’s already imposed tighter Covid curbs in two districts, including the suspension of schools and the closure of some indoor facilities. But even with the targeted restrictions, the usually bustling metropolis has gone quiet, according to a resident.
“Here it’s area by area; building by building — to give a little bit more freedom to people,” said Nicola Sangiovanni, a food and beverage industry professional. While he estimated that about 80% of dining venues in the central business district are operating normally, “the problem is there’s no people,” he said in a phone interview.
Meanwhile in Beijing, many public venues in Chaoyang district, where its flareup is concentrated, now require negative Covid test results within the past 24 hours for entry, according to notices posted on locations including supermarkets. That’s tighter than the previous requirement of 72 hours. The district government hasn’t made any official announcement on the change yet.


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