China sticks to zero COVID and extends lockdowns as cases hit a daily record

Pandemic lockdowns are expanding across China, including in a city where factory workers clashed with police this week as the number of COVID cases hits a daily record.

Residents of eight districts of Zhengzhou, home to 6.6 million people, were told to stay at home for five days from Thursday except to buy food or receive medical treatment.

Daily mass testing was ordered in what the city government called a “war of annihilation” against the virus.

In the past 24 hours, the number of new COVID cases has risen by 31,444, the National Health Commission said Thursday.

That is the highest daily figure since the coronavirus was first discovered in the central Chinese city of Wuhan at the end of 2019.

The daily caseload has steadily increased.

This week, authorities reported China’s first COVID deaths in six months, bringing the total to 5,232.

While the number of cases and deaths is relatively low compared to the US and other countries, China’s ruling Communist Party remains committed to a “zero COVID” strategy that aims to isolate each case and completely eliminate the virus. rowing.

Most other governments have ended anti-virus checks and now rely on vaccinations and immunity against previous infections to help prevent deaths and serious illness.

Shopping malls, offices closed, buildings cordoned off

Businesses and residential communities from the production center of Guangzhou in the south to Beijing in the north are in various forms of lockdowns, measures that mainly affect migrant workers.

In many cases, residents say the restrictions go beyond what the national government allows.

A security guard peers into a store past a series of neighboring Beijing restaurants
Restaurants in Beijing are closed.(AP: By Han Guan)

Guangzhou on Monday suspended access to its Baiyun district of 3.7 million, while residents of some parts of Shijiazhuang, a city of 11 million southwest of Beijing, were told to stay home while mass testing is carried out.

Beijing opened a hospital in an exhibition center.

It suspended entry to Beijing International Studies University after a virus case was found there.

Some shopping malls and office buildings were closed and access to some apartment complexes was blocked.

It was suggested that some of those measures could be at least semi-permanent, as workers erected a 2-meter high fence around the aging, low-rise brick apartment buildings in Beijing’s Hongmiao Beili community.

Half a dozen people in safety suits manned the entrance to an avenue that ran through the community, standing behind hip-high steel barriers commonly used for crowd control.

Authorities had announced measures to reduce disruptions from pandemic controls by shortening quarantines and making other changes.

Some Chinese have expressed frustration and confusion at the apparent policy flip-flops on social media.

An important point is the concern about how vulnerable people are to the virus.

Few Chinese people have contracted COVID or even been exposed to the virus, so only a small percentage are believed to have built up effective levels of virus-fighting antibodies.

China has an overall coronavirus vaccination rate of more than 92 percent, with most people having received at least one dose.

But far fewer older Chinese — especially those over 80 — have gotten the injections.

Protesters beat up iPhone factory

The government is trying to contain the latest wave of outbreaks without factories and shutting down the rest of its economy as early as 2020.

One tactic is the use of “closed-loop management”, where workers live in their factories without outside contacts.

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Chinese factory workers are beaten in protests against contract terms.

Foxconn, the world’s largest contract repairer of smartphones and other electronics, is struggling to fulfill orders for the iPhone 14 after thousands of workers left its Zhengzhou factory last month over complaints of unsafe working conditions.

In clashes on Tuesday and Wednesday, Zhengzhou police beat up workers protesting wage conditions at Apple’s largest iPhone factory, located in an industrial area near the city.

The protests were driven by disagreements over the payment of workers recruited to replace those who left.

Foxconn, based in Taiwan, said its contractual payment obligations have “always been met”.

The company denied what it said were online comments that workers with the virus were living in dormitories at the Zhengzhou factory.

It said facilities were disinfected and checked by the government before workers moved in.

AP/ABC

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