Coronavirus

Millions under lockdown in China as COVID-19 outbreak grows

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China on Saturday reported its highest number of coronavirus cases since May, with millions in lockdown this weekend as authorities persist with their zero-COVID-19 policy.

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Using snap lockdowns, long quarantines and mass testing, China is the last major economy still pursuing the goal of eliminating outbreaks, even as the strategy takes a heavy toll on the economy.

China reported 450 local infections on Saturday, up from 432 a day earlier. Most cases were asymptomatic.

The rising wave of cases led to fresh restrictions this week in some parts of the country.

Lanzhou, the capital of northwestern Gansu province, ordered its 4.4 million residents to stay home starting Wednesday, and a county in Anhui province went into lockdown from Friday.

Beihai in the southern Guangxi region on Saturday also announced lockdowns in parts of two districts that are home to more than 800,000 people.

“Currently, the epidemic prevention and control situation in Beihai city is severe and complicated, and the risk of hidden transmission in the community is relatively high,” said a government notice announcing the restrictions.

Earlier in the week, the steelmaking hub of Wugang in central Henan province announced a three-day lockdown over a single COVID-19 case.

The fast-spreading omicron variant of the virus has been a major challenge for Chinese authorities, as they try to limit the economic damage caused by COVID-19 restrictions.

China logged its slowest second-quarter growth rate since the initial COVID-19 outbreak, with GDP expanding just 0.4 percent on-year.

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