Everyone in a county of 1.8 million people in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou was ordered to stay home to be tested for the virus on Saturday, and a major city in the southwest closed schools. study when another increase in infection is reported.
Nationwide, a total of 11,773 infections were reported in the previous 24 hours, of which 10,351 were asymptomatic. China’s numbers are low, but the increase over the past week is challenging a “no COVID” strategy that aims to isolate everyone infected.
The quarantine for travelers to China will be shortened to a minimum of five days from seven days as part of changes in control announced Friday to reduce their costs and disruption. But the ruling Communist Party has said it will stick with “no COVID” even as other countries relax travel and other restrictions, and try to switch to a long-term co-existence strategy. with viruses.
A total of 3,775 infections were detected in Guangzhou, a city of 13 million people, of which 2,996 were asymptomatic, according to the National Health Commission. That’s up from Friday’s total of 3,030, including 2,461 asymptomatic.
People in Guangzhou’s Haizhu district were asked to go to the nearest testing station, or else stay at home, the county government announced on its social media account. One member of each household is allowed to go out to buy food.
Also on Saturday, health officials warned the decision to revise anti-virus controls doesn’t mean they’re over.
Under the changes, some foreign businessmen and athletes visiting China will be allowed to move within the restricted area without a quarantine period. More emphasis will be placed on who is considered contact with an infected person, reducing the number of people affected.
NHC deputy director Lei Haichao said: “This is not relaxation, nor ‘lay still’, but a more precise and scientific way of prevention and treatment.” Lei said the goal is to “contain the epidemic and minimize the impact on economic and social development.”
Economists and public health experts say Beijing could start a “COVID-free” drop by mid-2023 but that tens of millions of elderly people need to be vaccinated before visitor controls can be put in place. foreign to China ends.
Nationwide, people who want to enter supermarkets and other public buildings must present a negative result of a virus test that is performed as often as once a day. That allows authorities to detect infection in people who have no symptoms.
Guangzhou, 120 kilometers (75 miles) north of Hong Kong, closed schools and bus and metro services across the city as the number of cases increased over the past week. Flights to the Chinese capital Beijing and other major cities have been cancelled.
In the southwest, the industrial city of Chongqing has closed schools in the Beibei district, home to 840,000 people. Residents were barred from leaving a series of apartment blocks in the Yubei district, but the city did not say how many apartment blocks were affected.
Public frustration and complaints about some people’s lack of access to food or medicine have led to protests and clashes with local officials in some areas.
Elsewhere, mass testing was also carried out on Saturday in eight counties totaling 6.6 million people in downtown Zhengzhou.
Access to the industrial park of Zhengzhou, home to the world’s largest iPhone factory, was suspended last week after the outbreak. Apple Inc. warned that the delivery of their new iPhone 14 model would be delayed.
Despite efforts to ease the damage to the world’s second-largest economy, forecasters say business and consumption activity is weakening after growth rebounded to 3.9% from a year earlier in the three months ending in September from 2.2% in the first half of the year.
Economists have cut their annual economic growth forecast for China to as low as 3%, the lowest level in decades.
President Xi Jinping’s government has refused to import a foreign vaccine and despite requests for more information about the origin of the virus, which was first detected in the central city of Wuhan in end of 2019.