Friday, November 25, 2022

China COVID Cases Rise As Beijing Tightens Border Entry Rules

China’s capital warned on Monday that it was facing its most severe test of the COVID-19 pandemic, shutting businesses and schools in hard-hit districts and tightening rules for entering the city as infections ticked higher in Beijing and nationally.

China is fighting numerous COVID-19 flare-ups, from Zhengzhou in central Henan province to Chongqing in the southwest. It reported 26,824 new local cases for Sunday, nearing the country’s daily infection peak in April.

It also recorded two deaths in Beijing, up from one on Saturday, which was China’s first since late May.

Guangzhou, a southern city of nearly 19 million people that is battling the largest of China’s recent outbreaks, ordered a five-day lockdown for Baiyun, its most populous district. It also suspended dine-in services and shut night clubs and theatres in the city’s main business district.

The latest wave is testing China’s resolve to stick to adjustments it has made to its zero-COVID policy, which calls for cities to be more targeted in their clampdown measures and steer away from widespread lockdowns and testing that have strangled the economy and frustrated residents.

Asian share markets and oil prices slipped on Monday amid investor concern over the economic fallout from the intensifying COVID situation in China, with the risk aversion benefiting bonds and the dollar.

Beijing reported 962 new infections on Sunday, up from 621 a day earlier, and a further 316 cases for the first 15 hours of Monday.

City authorities said people arriving in the capital from elsewhere in China would need to undergo three days of COVID testing before they are permitted to leave their homes or accommodation.

“The city is facing its most complex and severe prevention and control situation since the outbreak of the coronavirus,” Liu Xiaofeng, the deputy director of Beijing’s municipal Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, told a media briefing.

Movement Restricted

Residents in Beijing’s sprawling Chaoyang district, home to 3.5 million people as well as embassies and office complexes, were urged to stay home, with schools going online.

Streets were unusually quiet, and stores in the district other than those selling groceries appeared mostly shut.

Restaurants were empty but for one or two staff members huddled at entrances around small tables showing “takeout only” signs.

Staff at building entrances carried out strict checks of mobile phone health apps with the command now familiar to all Beijingers: “Scan the code!”

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