The Perfect Enemy | China’s Guangzhou locks down, Beijing shuts schools over COVID
December 9, 2022
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China is battling COVID flareups from Zhengzhou in central Henan province to Chongqing in the southwest.

China’s Guangzhou has locked down its largest district while schools across Beijing have moved to online classes as authorities battle numerous COVID-19 flare-ups across the country.

Guangzhou, a southern metropolis that is home to almost 19 million people, on Monday announced a five-day lockdown for the most populous district of Baiyun, and suspended dining-in services and shut nightclubs and theatres in the main business district.

In Beijing, where authorities reported 962 new infections, students in schools in several districts began studying online after officials called for residents in some of its hardest-hit areas to stay home.

Health authorities in the capital also reported two COVID-19-related deaths after announcing the first death in over six months the previous day. Medical experts outside China are widely sceptical of the country’s official COVID death toll of fewer than 5,300 given international experience with the virus, although Beijing’s harsh restrictions have kept cases and deaths much lower than elsewhere.

COVID cases are rising across China, with flare-ups in regions ranging from Zhengzhou in central Henan province to Chongqing in the southwest.

Chinese health authorities reported 26,824 local cases for Sunday, close to the country’s peak in April.

While the rest of the world is living with COVID-19, China has stuck with a strict “zero COVID” strategy that relies on lockdowns, mass testing and border controls to stamp out the virus wherever it pops up.

Despite relaxing some COVID curbs, including cutting quarantine for international arrivals from seven to five days, and calling for more targeted measures, Beijing has repeatedly ruled out a fundamental shift away from “zero COVID” even as public frustrations with the policy mount.

Asian stock markets and oil prices slid on Monday as investors geared up for further economic disruption due to the rising cases.

On Monday, the People’s Daily newspaper, the mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party, published the latest in a series of articles stressing the need to catch cases early while avoiding a “one-size-fits-all” response.