China reports first Covid deaths in six months as Beijing cases rise | Porcelain

China reported the deaths of three people in Beijing over the weekend as its first Covid-19 deaths in six months, with cases rising despite a strict zero-Covid policy.

China is the last major economy to remain locked in a zero-tolerance policy on the virus, imposing rapid lockdowns, mass testing and quarantines even as the rest of the world adjusts to living with Covid.

The first death, which authorities announced Sunday, was that of an 87-year-old man. Beijing reported 962 new infections on Monday, up from 621 the day before.

The National Health Commission said on Sunday that it had recorded 26,824 local infections across the country in the previous 24 hours, nearing April peaks.

Students at schools in several Beijing districts buckled up for online classes on Monday after authorities told residents in some of the hardest-hit areas to stay home.

While China’s covid counts are low compared to most other countries, the latest announcements follow a recent spike in cases after months of reporting few infections.

The announcements also come after Beijing declared its most significant easing of coronavirus measures to date on November 11, including reducing mandatory quarantine times for international arrivals.

Days later, several Chinese cities canceled mass covid tests, raising hopes of an eventual reopening.

But the relaxation of some measures has not marked a change in the zero-covid policy, which has left China isolated internationally, wreaked havoc on the economy and sparked protests in a country where dissent is routinely crushed.

In another sign that China’s reopening may still be delayed, Beijing officials repeated their call for residents to avoid “non-compulsory” travel between districts to prevent the spread of the virus.

Some of Beijing’s biggest malls closed on Sunday, while others reduced opening hours or banned table service in restaurants.

Several offices in the commercial and diplomatic center of Chaoyang district asked companies to tell their employees to work from home. Some parks and gyms have also been closed.

Stock markets in Asia fell on Monday in response to new Covid restrictions in Beijing. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index fell nearly 2%, in what investors saw as a blow to hopes of an early relaxation of strict pandemic rules.

The number of cases “is experiencing a significant increase,” Beijing Municipality spokesman Xu Hejian said on Sunday. “The epidemic prevention and control situation in the capital is grim.”

In the southern manufacturing hub of Guangzhou, more than 8,000 new cases were reported daily on Sunday, prompting authorities to launch a comprehensive covid test in the central Haizhu district, which is home to around 1.8 million. of people, and lock down Baiyun District for five days. .

Guangzhou was the scene of angry protests and clashes with police last week for a renewed lockdown.

Agence France-Presse and Reuters contributed to this report

About the author


Leave a Comment