A record wave of COVID-19 infections has led to further restrictions for people in China.
The health commission in Beijing reported more than 31,000 new cases nationwide in the last 24 hours on Thursday — the biggest increase in cases since the chaos in the first few days of the pandemic.
On Wednesday, the number of cases stood at 31,444 — a figure that broke a record set on April 13 when Shanghai’s commercial center, home to 25 million people, was placed under a two-month lockdown.
China continues to pursue a strict zero-COVID-19 strategy with lockdowns, daily mass testing, strict surveillance, contact tracing, and forced quarantine.
Nevertheless, the number of new infections has risen sharply again, especially in recent weeks, which has led to increasing restrictions.
The Chinese government had recently relaxed some COVID-19 rules, including a reduction in the length of the quarantine period when entering China from 10 to eight days.
New measures have recently been imposed in almost all major cities, including the capital, where schools, kindergartens and shops are closed and residents have been asked to stay home whenever possible.
Increasingly, residential complexes are also being completely sealed off. In the particularly severely affected southern Chinese metropolis of Guangzhou, where there have been fierce protests against COVID-19 measures, several districts are completely blocked.
Shanghai, meanwhile, announced that travelers coming to the city won’t be allowed to go to restaurants or shops for five days.
The curbs are polluting both local residents and factory production, including the world’s largest iPhone factory, which was shaken by clashes between workers and security personnel, which rarely led to disagreements.
“How many people have the savings to support them when things are constantly coming to a standstill? ” asked a 40-year-old man from Beijing with the last name Wang, who is the manager of a foreign company. “And even if you have money to stay home every day, that’s not real life.”
The streets of Chaoyang, the capital’s most populous district, were increasingly empty this week.
Sanlitun, a prime shopping district, was almost silent on Thursday, except for the whirring of e-bikes from delivery drivers delivering meals to those working from home.
China’s economy is suffering from its zero-Covid approach, one of President Xi Jinping’s key measures, although much of the world is trying to coexist with the virus, and says it’s needed to save lives and prevent the medical system from being overwhelmed.