COVID Instances in China are Increasing, and Several Beijing Districts Have Closed Their Schools

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As the number of cases of the deadly respiratory illness COVID rose in China’s capital and throughout the country on Monday, students at schools across numerous Beijing districts hunkered down for online courses.

Many cities throughout China, from Zhengzhou in central Henan province to Chongqing in the southwest, are now battling COVID-19 outbreaks. On Sunday, it recorded 26,824 new cases in the area, which was close to the daily pandemic high in April.

On top of that, it reported two fatalities in Beijing, up from Saturday’s one, which was the first in China since late May.

Baiyun, the most populated neighborhood in the southern Chinese metropolis of Guangzhou, was placed under lockdown for five days as part of the response to the greatest of China’s recent outbreaks. It also caused restaurants in the city’s central business center to stop accepting dine-in customers and caused theaters and nightclubs to close.

China’s commitment to maintain changes to its zero-COVID policy is being put to the test by the most recent wave. The policy asks for localities to be more selective in their clampdown measures and to avoid sweeping lockdowns and testing, which have stifled the economy and irritated inhabitants.

Risk aversion boosted Treasuries and the dollar on Monday as Asian stock markets and oil prices fell on investor concerns about the economic implications from the worsening COVID crisis in China.

Infection numbers in Beijing increased to 962 from 621 the day before. The massive Chaoyang district, which has 3.5 million people, encouraged its inhabitants to remain indoors and use online learning resources instead.

Residents were instructed to stay indoors, so the streets were rather quiet. It seems like most shops were closed except for grocery stores.

“You are trapped. The shops are all closed. Customers also are unable to attend. To what effect? To no avail, “Jia Xi, 32, a salesperson in the medical field, claimed.

The Haidian, Dongcheng, and Xicheng districts also saw a reduction in the number of schools that operated in a traditional classroom setting.

Recent weeks have seen a reduction in regular community COVID-19 testing in many Chinese towns, notably the northern city of Shijiazhuang, which has been the focus of intense discussion as a potential test bed for policy easing.

When the number of new local cases reached 641 per day on Sunday night, Shijiazhuang stated it will perform mass testing in six of its eight districts over the following five days. Additionally, it mandated that certain institutions stop holding classes in person and actively pushed internet shopping among locals.

The limits in Shijiazhuang were among the most talked about issues on Weibo, with one user noting that they lasted for a whole week.

The People’s Daily, the official newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party, released its eighth article since China unveiled its 20 modified measures on November 11 emphasising the need to diagnose illnesses early but to avoid adopting a “one-size-fits-all” approach.

On Monday, the National Health Commission released additional specific recommendations for how these precautions should be implemented in terms of testing, the demarcation and management of risk zones, and home isolation techniques.

Even as China confronts its first winter combating the highly transmissible Omicron strain of COVID-19, recent moves to make China’s COVID-19 limitations more targeted have spurred market expectations of a more substantial relaxation.

However, the government has argued that President Xi Jinping’s trademark zero-COVID policy saves lives and is important to prevent the healthcare system from becoming overloaded, and many experts anticipate such a move to begin only in March or April.

In a country where the illness is still widely feared, experts think that a huge vaccine booster campaign and a shift in message are necessary for a complete reopening. Vaccination efforts are being planned, and authorities say they will be expanding hospital capacity and opening fever clinics to examine people.

Since vaccination rates are still very low among the elderly, Oxford Economics predicts that we won’t be able to declare victory over zero-COVID until the second part of 2023.

Reporting on the nation’s readiness to open up “from an epidemiological and political standpoint,” it said on Monday that it did not feel the country was ready.

Chief economist at GROW Investment Group Hao Hong stated in a separate note that China may be “crossing the river while feeling the stones” in a phase of slow and regulated openness.

“Despite the rising problems, it is not a matter of whether China will reopen, but a question of over what duration and how best to manage to minimize healthcare expenditures and probable lives lost,” he added.

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