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Another lockdown in China after new, small outbreaks

China has placed millions of its citizens under renewed lockdown after fresh outbreaks of COVID-19, with the government persisting in its hardline policy on containing the virus despite protests that it is suffocating the economy.

The country’s “zero-COVID” policy contrasts with other countries’ easing of restrictions combined with vaccinations, medication and voluntary isolation, reports The Guardian.

China has largely kept its borders closed to foreign visitors, requiring any to submit to more than a week of quarantine in hotels where sanitary conditions are often poor. Masking and regular testing are standard and close contacts can be forcibly transported to field hospitals.

The latest measures affect cities from the southern cities of Shenzhen and Guangzhou to the northern port city of Dalian, and from the western metropolis of Chengdu to Shijiazhuang in central Hebei Province.

The lockdown in Dalian was expected to affect about half of its 6m residents and was due to last five days, although in the past, authorities have extended restrictions depending on the number of new cases.

On Tuesday, the country reported 1 717 cases of local transmission, 52 of them in Liaoning Province where Dalian is. Most of the cases were reported in Sichuan Province, whose capital is Chengdu, and the majority were asymptomatic.

In Shenzhen, at least four districts with around 9m residents in total, have already ordered closure of entertainment and cultural businesses and halted or reduced restaurant dining for a few days.

Guangzhou, a city of nearly 19m people near Hong Kong, reported just five locally transmitted infections on Tuesday but authorities ordered certain areas in one district to close indoor entertainment venues and dining at restaurants until Saturday.

The city also ordered all kindergartens and primary, middle and high schools in the district to delay resuming the new term and halt offline sessions that have already started. Bus and subway services in the district were also reduced.

The closures came as data released yesterday showed more signs that China’s economy is being retarded by the strict zero-COVID strategy.

The purchasing managers’ index, a key gauge of manufacturing activity in the world’s second-biggest economy, came in at 49.4 in August, up from July’s 49.0 but still below the 50-point mark separating growth from contraction, the national bureau of statistics said.

According to Capital Economics, 41 cities, responsible for 32% of China’s GDP, are currently in the midst of outbreaks – the highest number since April.

Beijing has been relatively unaffected although travel in and out of the capital has been discouraged and residents are subject to testing on an almost daily basis.

The World Health Organisation has called China’s policy unsustainable. On Monday a Chinese thinktank made a rare public display of dissent, saying the curbs – which have shut down cities and disrupted trade, travel and industry – must change to prevent an “economic stall”.

The Anbound Research Centre said President Xi Jinping’s Government needed to focus on restoring growth like the United States, Europe and Japan.

 

The Guardian article – China places millions into Covid lockdown again as economy continues to struggle (Open access)

 

See more from MedicalBrief archives:

 

China: Millions in lockdown as new cases hit two-year high, testing its ‘zero COVID’ resolve

 

China seals off city as worst virus outbreak in a year grows

 

China’s bid for Zero Covid: Economic pain, rights abuses and data manipulation

 

 

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