Virus outbreaks in more Chinese cities

China is currently grappling with the worst covid-19 outbreak in two years, with infections popping up in more cities and no end in sight for Shanghai’s outbreak that has left millions locked in their homes.

In the current wave that started in late February, restrictions and lockdowns in Shenzhen and some other cities have successfully halted the spread of the omicron variant in the community, allowing them to start opening up again. However, other places are seeing surges and instituting movement restrictions to try to contain infections before they reach crisis levels in Shanghai, which has had more than 20,000 new cases every day for more than a year. week.

This city has been completely closed for two weeks, although many residents have been confined to their homes for much longer. Across China, some 373 million people, or 25% of the population, are under some form of restriction on movement as authorities move aggressively to contain cases, according to a report by economists from Nomura Holdings Inc. .earlier this week.

These controls and the resulting consequences for consumption, industrial production and supply chains are already weighing on the world’s second-largest economy, and more lockdowns will only increase the damage. However, Chinese President Xi Jinping reiterated earlier this week that the nation will adhere to the zero-covid policy despite the difficulties and protests it provokes, with the government emphatically saying the damage is less than what would happen if the virus was spreading unchecked across the country.

Infections in Shanghai’s neighbor Suzhou are rising as the local government locked down the city of Kunshan last week.

This has led to production shutdowns at the factories of at least 30 Taiwanese tech companies, including iPhone assembler Pegatron Corp. But Suzhou’s municipal government said earlier this week that the city had no plans to shut down, trying to allay fears as residents began stockpiling food in case they were suddenly confined at home.

Taiyuan, the capital of northern Shanxi province, began tightening controls last week and has now locked down six inner-city neighborhoods where most of its 5.3 million people live. The hashtag “Taiyuan presses the pause button” went viral Thursday night after state media used the euphemism to describe what was happening.

Guangzhou is stepping up restrictions in an attempt to stop the spread of the omicron variant, suspending classroom instruction for elementary and middle school students and closing some subway stations and many indoor venues. Over the past week, more than 130 cases have been detected, but health officials have warned of a potential wider spread.

Shanghai remains under a strict lockdown, with most of its 25 million citizens confined to their homes.

The seemingly indefinite lockdown has halted production at several automakers in the city, including Tesla and Chinese electric vehicle maker Nio, and has also prevented trucks from making deliveries and caused delays at the port. In an assessment of supply chain disruptions caused by the lockdown, He Xiaopeng, chief executive of electric vehicle company Xpeng Inc., said on Thursday that Chinese automakers may have to halt production in May if shutdowns persist. In the region.

The northeastern province of Jilin has managed to control the spread of covid thanks to a month-long confinement of its 24 million inhabitants.

Authorities said on Thursday that no infections had been reported in the community, meaning all of the more than 500 new cases were already under quarantine and therefore contained. Often referred to as “zero community spread”, this is a key measure for Chinese officials as they seek to achieve zero covid and reopen their cities.

The success prompted local governments to begin easing restrictions in various cities across the province, allowing factories to restart manufacturing. In the capital Changchun, the production of the state-owned automobile company partner of Toyota Motor Corp. and Volkswagen AG is set to restart after a month-long shutdown, local media reported on Monday.

Xuzhou in eastern China saw domestic infections drop to zero earlier this week after its 9 million people were quarantined two weeks ago. The local government gradually lifted restrictions and resumed public transport, manufacturing and other business activities.

Tangshan and Langfang near Beijing also brought their local outbreaks under control and began lifting restrictions this week.

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