By News Desk

China has put nearly 30 million people under strict lockdown measures as the country recorded a steep rise in new coronavirus infections, which have hit a two-year high.

A total of 5,280 new Covid-19 infections were recorded in the country on Tuesday, more than double the cases recorded the previous day, prompting the return of hazmat-suited health officials taking over streets for mass testing.

At least 13 cities across the country were under full lockdown as of Tuesday, with partial lockdowns imposed in dozens of other cities.

China has taken some of the most drastic measures since the start of the pandemic, even though its caseload is low compared with other major countries because it has tethered itself tightly to a “zero-Covid” strategy.

But this aspiration, which calls for hard localised lockdowns, has left China effectively shutting down its borders for two years, and in spite of this the Omicron variant was nevertheless able to enter the country.

The northeastern province of Jilin, which recorded over 3,000 new cases on Tuesday, was put under quarantine orders covering its entire population of 24 million. This is the first time an entire province has been locked down since Wuhan and Hubei at the beginning of the pandemic in 2020.

Almost 9 million residents of the provincial capital of Changchun, an auto-manufacturing hub, are under stay-at-home orders.

Since Sunday, a five-day lockdown has been imposed on the 12.5 million people living in technology hub Shenzhen, and buses and subway services have been suspended.

Lanzhou University in China’s northwest, which runs a Covid forecasting system, predicted that the ongoing wave would be brought under control by early April after recording around 35,000 cases. The university stated that the most serious outbreak in mainland China since Wuhan in 2020 could be controlled if stringent curbs were maintained.

China’s top infectious disease expert Zhang Wenhong called the ongoing outbreak the “most difficult period in the last two years of battling Covid”. He said the country was still in the “early stages of an exponential rise”, in an online post that was widely circulated on social media.

The strict lockdowns and rising cases have raised the risk of trade disruption after some auto and electronics factories, such as Toyota, Volkswagen and Apple supplier Foxconn, suspended their operations.

Taiwanese-owned Foxconn, which assembles Apple’s iPhones, said it had suspended its operations in Shenzhen on Monday, adding that the date of resumption would “be advised by the local government”.

Toyota announced the shutdown of its factory in Changchun city in Jilin province, and did not state when it would resume operations.

Volkswagen AG said its Changchun factories would shut down from Monday to Wednesday. It added that its VW and Audi brands and component production would be affected.

Since December, China’s business hub Hong Kong has been reeling under its fifth wave of the pandemic, recording 26,908 cases on Monday. Healthcare facilities and morgues are struggling under the pressure of record infections in the city of 7.4 million people.

Culled from the Independent 


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