China is seeing record daily COVID cases of nearly 30,000 amid lockdowns


China reported a record daily coronavirus case count of nearly 30,000 on the mainland on Thursday as the government continues to implement its strict “zero COVID” policy, with lockdowns in some 20,000 areas.

New cases, including asymptomatic but excluding international arrivals, stood at 29,754 on Wednesday, according to the National Health Commission, the highest figure since it began releasing the count in spring 2020.

An official in protective gear stands in front of a building in Beijing where public access has been banned due to COVID-19 cases, on November 22, 2022. (TBEN) ==TBEN

The previous high was recorded in mid-April, when Shanghai, the country’s financial and commercial center, went into lockdown. Many cases were reported in Guangdong province, Chongqing, Beijing and Sichuan province.

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Unrest erupted in the city of Guangzhou, in southern China, on November 14, according to Hong Kong media, with angry protesters overturning a police car as tight COVID restrictions continued.

At an iPhone factory of Taiwan’s Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., known by its trade name Foxconn, in the central Chinese city of Zhengzhou, hundreds of workers clashed with authorities dressed in safety suits earlier this week as the workers used bonus payments, video footage and posted on social media.

The factory was hit by coronavirus infections in October, leading to an exodus of workers. The manufacturing company later promised bonus payments to secure its workforce.

Watching maskless spectators at the World Cup in Qatar, which began on Sunday, televised, many citizens in China posted comments on social media questioning the country’s zero-COVID policy, but the comments quickly became deleted.

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Amid public frustration with the radical rules, Chinese President Xi Jinping’s leadership decided earlier this month to optimize COVID response measures to avoid the “one-size-fits-all approach and excessive policy moves”, including shortening quarantine periods, to put right.

The Chinese government also said on Monday it will not implement city-wide lockdowns and will instead block buildings where COVID cases are reported.

In Beijing, about 1,300 areas were closed on Wednesday evening. Commercial facilities, restaurants and schools are closed, many people work from home and students take classes online.

Many streets in central parts of the capital were empty, but long queues formed at COVID testing sites as people must obtain negative certificates within 24 to 48 hours of attempting to access public spaces and major facilities.

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Central areas of Guangdong and Chongqing province also had many closed-off zones. Chinese Vice Premier Sun Chunlan visited the southwestern city on Monday and stressed the importance of taking immediate action to contain the current COVID-19 outbreak without delay, state media reported.

People line up for PCR testing in Beijing on Nov. 23, 2022. (TBEN)

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