BEIJING (Reuters) – Beijing closed parks, shopping malls and museums on Tuesday as more Chinese cities resumed mass testing for COVID-19, as China battles a surge in cases, deepening concerns about its economy and dampening hopes for a quick job. Coronavirus reopening.
China reported 28,127 new local infection cases nationwide on Monday, close to its daily peak since April, with infections in the southern city of Guangzhou and the southwestern municipality of Chongqing making up about half of the total.
In the capital, Beijing, cases are hitting new records every day, prompting calls from the city government for more residents to stay where they are.
There were two new deaths attributed to COVID-19 by health officials, compared to three over the weekend, the first in China since May.
The latest wave is testing China’s recent adjustments to its COVID-free policy, which asks authorities to be more targeted in their crackdown and steer clear of the widespread lockdowns and testing that have stifled the economy and demoralized the population.
Tianjin municipality, near Beijing, on Tuesday became the latest municipality to order citywide tests, following a similar announcement on Sunday by Shijiazhuang.
Even after the revised guidelines, China remains a global anomaly with its stringent coronavirus restrictions, including borders remaining closed throughout the nearly three years of the pandemic.
Tight measures in Beijing and other cities, even as China tries to avoid citywide lockdowns like the one that crippled Shanghai this year, renewed investor fears about the economy and sent global stocks and oil prices sliding overnight.
Nomura analysts said Tuesday that their internal index estimated that localities accounting for about 19.9% of China’s gross domestic product are under some form of lockdown or restrictions, up from 15.6% last Monday and not far from the index’s peak in April. During the closure of Shanghai.
Locks are located
China’s capital warned on Monday that it was facing the most severe test of the COVID-19 pandemic and tightened rules for entering the city, requiring arrivals from elsewhere in China to undergo a three-day COVID test before being allowed to leave their accommodation.
Many Beijing residents have seen their buildings locked down, though these restrictions often only last a few days.
Some city residents said they faced delays in grocery deliveries, due to the heavy quantities.
Many museums have closed, and places like the Happy Valley amusement park and the city’s sprawling Chaoyang Park, a popular spot for runners and hikers, announced on Tuesday that they would close due to the outbreak. Beijing reported 1,438 new locally-acquired cases, up from 962 on Sunday.
The central city of Wuhan, where the virus was first detected, issued a notice on Tuesday urging its residents to travel only between home and work.
The municipality said Vice Premier Sun Chunlan, who led China’s coronavirus non-spread policy, visited Chongqing on Monday and urged authorities there to adhere to measures and control the outbreak.
Not as stated
Investors had hoped that China’s more targeted implementation of zero COVID restrictions might herald greater easing, but many analysts caution against being too optimistic.
Many companies, especially customer-facing ones, also fear that they may not survive until next year as customers continue to hold onto their cash so desperately.
China argues that President Xi Jinping’s signature of the coronavirus non-spread policy saves lives and is necessary to prevent the health care system from becoming overwhelmed.
Many experts warn that fully reopening would require a major effort to promote vaccination and a change in messaging in a country where the disease remains widely feared. Authorities say they plan to build more hospitals and fever clinics to screen patients, and are formulating a vaccination drive.
“The real picture may not be as rosy as it seems,” Nomura analysts wrote, saying they only expect any reopening to accelerate after March next year, when the reshuffle of China’s top leadership is complete.
“Reopening can go back and forth as policymakers may back off after noticing rapid increases in cases and social unrest. As such, local officials may be more reluctant to be the first mover when trying to discover Beijing’s true intentions,” Nomura wrote. .
reporting by newsrooms in Beijing and Shanghai; Written by Brenda Goh. Editing by Tony Monroe, Miral Fahmy, and Jerry Doyle
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