Chinese cities double down on COVID eradication as outbreak widens

  • China recorded the third day of more than 1,000 new domestic cases
  • Guangzhou, Wuhan and Xining are among the cities tightening COVID measures
  • China has repeatedly pledged to uphold zero-tolerance policies

BEIJING (Reuters) – Chinese cities from Wuhan in central China to Xining in the northwest have doubled down on COVID-19 restrictions, locking down buildings and locking up districts and throwing millions into distress in a scramble to stop the widening outbreak.

China on Thursday reported a third consecutive day of more than 1,000 new cases of the COVID virus nationwide, a modest number compared to the tens of thousands on the day that sent Shanghai into full lockdown earlier this year, but enough to impose further restrictions in all over the country.

The burden of coronavirus cases in China has remained small by global standards, but this year’s strict and alarming containment measures against the highly transmissible variant Omicron have weighed on the world’s second-largest economy.

Guangzhou, China’s fourth-largest city by economic output and provincial capital Guangdong, on Thursday closed more streets and neighborhoods and kept people indoors as new areas were deemed high-risk in the COVID outbreak that has continued into its fourth week.

“Many of my friends and colleagues have been locked up at home,” said Lily Li, 28, a resident of Guangzhou.

“The situation is still precarious. Many places are closed. Classes have stopped and entertainment places are also suspended. The gym I go to often is also closed.”

As of October 24, 28 cities were implementing varying degrees of lockdown measures, with about 207.7 million people affected in regions responsible for about 25.6 trillion yuan ($3.55 trillion) of China’s gross domestic product, according to Nomura.

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This is equivalent to nearly a quarter of China’s economic output in 2021.

Stocks in mainland China fell on Thursday as the outbreak and bleak data on the industrial sector affected by the coronavirus hurt sentiment.

Wuhan Wo

Wuhan, the site of the world’s first outbreak of the COVID-19 virus in late 2019, has reported about 20 to 25 new infections per day this week, prompting local authorities to order more than 800,000 people in one area to stay home until Sunday. .

Security personnel in protective suits stand at the gate of an apartment complex undergoing closure as the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues in Beijing, October 22, 2022. REUTERS/Thomas Peter/File Photo

“I don’t know what to do. If we can still survive like this, I suppose that’s what we’ll do,” said a Wuhan resident surnamed Zhang, 38.

“When we see these news stories about COVID, we now feel a little numb. We feel numb about it all. We feel more and more numb.”

Wuhan has also stopped selling pork in parts of the city, according to photos and posts on social media, after discovering one case of COVID-19 that authorities said was linked to the local pork supply chain.

In Xining, the capital of Qinghai province, social media posts spoke of food shortages and soaring prices of basic goods as health authorities in the city of 2.5 million people raced to contain the COVID recovery after the week-long National Day holiday in early October.

“To reduce the risk of transmission, some vegetable and fruit stores have been closed and placed under quarantine,” a Xining government official said on Wednesday.

Other large cities across China, including Zhengzhou, Datong and Xi’an, implemented new restrictions this week to curb the local outbreak.

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In Beijing, the Universal Resort theme park was closed Wednesday after a visitor tested positive for the coronavirus.

China has repeatedly vowed to uphold a zero-tolerance response to COVID-19 and implement what authorities say are necessary measures to contain the virus.

“Once you have a case somewhere, and then you come into close contact, you should be in quarantine,” said Wen Beihan, a 26-year-old resident of Beijing, who was previously isolated in quarantine facilities on two occasions.

“It’s nerve-wracking.”

(dollar = 7.2107 Chinese yuan)

Reporting by Ryan Wu. Additional reporting by Martin Quinn Pollard and Chuping Wang in Beijing and Josh Yi in Hong Kong; Editing by Edmund Kellmann, Lincoln Fest and Thomas Janowski

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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