Chinese cities tighten curbs against widening Covid-19 outbreaks

Security personnel in protective suits stand at the gate of a residential compound that is under lockdown as outbreaks of Covid-19 continue in Beijing on Oct 22.
PHOTO: Reuters

BEIJING – Chinese cities from Wuhan in central China to Xining in the northwest are doubling down on Covid-19 curbs, sealing up buildings, locking down districts and throwing millions into distress in a scramble to halt widening outbreaks.

China on Thursday (Oct 27) reported a third straight day of more than 1,000 new Covid cases nationwide, a modest tally compared with the tens of thousands per day that sent Shanghai into a full-blown lockdown earlier this year but enough to trigger more curbs and restrictions across the country.

China's coronavirus case load has remained small by global standards, but its ultra-strict and disruptive containment measures this year against the highly transmissible Omicron variant have weighed heavily on the world's second-largest economy and rattled financial markets.

Guangzhou, China's fourth-biggest city by economic output and the provincial capital of Guangdong, on Thursday sealed up more streets and neighbourhoods and kept people in their homes as new areas were deemed high-risk in a Covid resurgence that persisted into its fourth week.

Wuhan, site of the world's first Covid-19 outbreak in late 2019, reported around 20 to 25 new infections a day this week. Nevertheless, local authorities ordered more than 800,000 people in one district to stay at home until Oct 30.

Wuhan also suspended the sale of pork in parts of the city, according to images and posts on social media, after one Covid case was found that authorities said was linked to the local pork supply chain.

In Xining, capital of Qinghai province, social media posts told of food shortages and price inflation for essential goods as health authorities in the city of 2.5 million people raced to contain a Covid rebound following the week-long National Day holiday in early October.

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

Other large cities across China including Zhengzhou, Datong and Xian have implemented new curbs this week to rein in local outbreaks.

In Beijing, the Universal Resort theme park was shut on Wednesday after at least one visitor tested positive for the coronavirus.

China has repeatedly vowed to stick to its zero-tolerance response to Covid-19 and implement what the authorities say are necessary measures to contain the virus.

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