BEIJING, Nov 22 (Reuters) – More Chinese cities resume mass testing for COVID-19 as China struggles with a spike in cases, deepens concerns over its economy, and dampens hopes for a quick reopening, as Beijing closes parks, malls and museums on Tuesday. The coronavirus is reopening.
China reported 28,127 new local cases nationwide on Monday, with infections in the southern city of Guangzhou and the southwest municipality of Chongqing accounting for about half of the total, approaching its daily peak in April.
In the capital Beijing, cases are reaching new heights every day, prompting calls from the city government for more residents to stay put.
There have been two new deaths attributed to COVID-19 by health officials.
The latest wave is testing China’s recent adjustments to its zero-COVID policy, which is asking officials to be more targeted in their containment measures and move away from the widespread lockdown and testing that has stifled the economy and frustrated residents.
Following a similar announcement by Shijiazhuang on Sunday, Tianjin municipality near Beijing on Tuesday became the latest municipality to place a city-wide test order.
Even after regulated guidelines, China remains a global outlier with strict COVID restrictions, including borders that remain fully closed nearly three years after the pandemic.
Even as China tries to avoid the city-wide lockdown that has crippled Shanghai this year, tightening measures in Beijing and other cities have reaffirmed investors’ concerns about the economy and global stocks and oil prices will drop overnight.
Nomura analysts on Tuesday estimated their in-house indexes that local regions, which make up about 19.9% of China’s total gross domestic product, are under some form of isolation or restriction, compared to 15.6% last Monday. He said he was not far from his peak in . April, during Shanghai’s lockdown.
The Chinese capital warned on Monday that it faces the most severe COVID-19 pandemic testing, and tightened rules for entry into the city require travelers 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, but these restrictions usually only last a few days.
Some city dwellers said they were experiencing delays in grocery deliveries due to congestion.
Many museums have been closed, and venues such as Happy Valley amusement park and the city’s expansive Chaoyang Park, a popular spot among runners and picnickers, will close Tuesday due to the outbreak, he said. Beijing reported 1,438 new local cases, up from 962 on Sunday.
The central city of Wuhan, where the virus was first discovered, issued a statement Tuesday urging residents to travel only between home and work.
Leading China’s zero-COVID policy, Deputy Prime Minister Sun Chunlan visited Chongqing on Monday and urged authorities there to adhere to precautions and contain the outbreak.
Investors had hoped that China’s more targeted implementation of zero-COVID restrictions could herald more significant easing, but many analysts warn against too much bullishness.
Many businesses, especially customer-facing ones, afraid they won’t survive until next year as customers continue to keep their cash tight.
China argues that President Xi Jinping’s zero-COVID policy saves lives and is necessary to avoid overloading the healthcare system.
Many experts warn that full reopening will require a major effort and a change in messaging to speed up vaccination in a country where the disease remains largely feared. Officials say they plan to create more hospital capacity and fever clinics to screen patients, and are formulating an immunization campaign.
“The reality may not be as rosy as it seems,” Nomura analysts wrote, saying they expect any reopening to accelerate only after March next year, when the realignment of China’s top leadership is complete.
“Reopening can be back and forth as policymakers may back off after observing rapid increases in cases and social cuts. Thus, local officials may be even more reluctant to be the first to act when Beijing tries to voice its true intentions,” Nomura said. .
reporting by the Beijing and Shanghai newsroom; Written by Brenda Goh; Editing by Tony Munroe, Miral Fahmy and Gerry Doyle
Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
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