China locks down millions as COVID cases rise before winter

Controversial ‘zero COVID’ policy under strain as cases top 2,000 for a second straight day.

Chinese cities and provinces ae racing to stamp out sporadic COVID-19 outbreaks as winter nears [File: Reuters]

Officials in Chinese cities and provinces across the country are pulling no punches in stamping out sporadic COVID-19 outbreaks as winter nears, quickly closing venues and enforcing longer temporary lockdowns on millions of people.

Cases in mainland China hit 2,898 on Sunday, topping 2,000 for a second straight day and pressuring the country’s controversial zero-COVID policy, which has hamstrung the economy and exasperated its citizens.

In Guangdong province, manufacturing centre Guangzhou has seen a spate of cases over the past week that has closed some districts. Haizhu’s 1.8 million residents, or about 10 percent of Guangzhou’s population, have been the worst hit.

Total cases in Guangzhou rose to 1,110 during October 24-30 from 402 in the previous seven-day period. The threat of a major lockdown would rattle the city and harken back to the nightmarish two-month lockdown Shanghai experienced a few months ago.

On Monday, Shanghai Disney Resort said it closed the entire resort from October 31 due to COVID prevention measures in the city.

Over the past week, authorities raced to get a handle on rising cases in Datong, Xining, Nanjing, Xian, Zhengzhou and Wuhan, forcing temporary lockdown measures in some neighbourhoods.

Lu Dongliang, secretary of the Municipal Party Committee of Datong, rushed back from the party congress last week to access the “dire situation in the city” of more than one million.

Datong, which recorded 288 cases from October 27 to 30, has enforced stricter isolation and management of hotels, key industries and its railway. Some officials in the city have been punished for lax enforcement of COVID rules, according to local media reports.

As winter nears, northern cities, particularly those close to international borders, are seeing higher case numbers and could face new curbs.

Mudanjiang in Heilongjiang province, bordering North Korea, extended the temporary lockdown of some areas, according to local media reports. Dandong, Suihua, and Ruili – cities close to North Korea, Russia and Myanmar borders respectively – are experiencing outbreaks.

Source: Reuters