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

COVID-19 cases are at a two-year high in China as the country posted a steep jump in daily infections, with new cases more than doubling from a day earlier as a virus outbreak expands rapidly in the north-east.

At least 11 cities and counties nationwide have been locked down because of the latest surge, including the southern tech hub of Shenzhen, home to 17m people.

A total of 3,507 domestically transmitted cases with confirmed symptoms were reported this past Monday (14 March) across more than a dozen provinces and municipalities, the National Health Commission said, up from 1,337 a day earlier.

The Guardian reports that since the coronavirus first emerged in Wuhan in late 2019, China had successfully suppressed large-scale outbreaks through its strict “zero-COVID” strategy involving hard lockdowns.

While this outbreak was the most serious since Wuhan in 2020, China could bring it under control as long as stringent curbs remained in place, say local experts.

Although the countryʼs case load is tiny by global standards, they said the rate of increase in daily cases over the next few weeks would be crucial in determining whether its tough containment approach was still effective against the rapidly spreading Omicron variant.

A COVID-19 forecasting system run by Lanzhou University in Chinaʼs north-west predicted that the current round of infections would eventually be brought under control in early April after an accumulated total of about 35,000 cases.

Chinaʼs aviation regulator said 106 international flights due to arrive in Shanghai would be diverted to other domestic cities from 21 March to 1 May.

Confirmed symptomatic infections in Shanghai stood at 21 on Monday, including 12 imported from overseas, with an additional 130 asymptomatic cases.

The number of new asymptomatic cases, which China does not classify as confirmed cases, stood at 1,768 compared with 906 a day earlier. There were no new deaths, leaving the death toll unchanged at 4,636.

As of 14 March, mainland China had reported 120,504 cases with confirmed symptoms, including both local ones and those arriving from outside the mainland.


The Guardian article (with Reuters and AFP) – China COVID cases hit two-year high with millions in lockdown as outbreak spreads (Open access)


See more from MedicalBrief archives:


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


China races to control new COVID-19 outbreak in wholesale food market


Expert panel criticises China and WHO over initial COVID-19 response


Premature lifting of control measures may mean 2nd wave of COVID-19 — China modelling study



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