Covid cases in Beijing hit five-month high; Guangzhou district shut
New Covid cases in Beijing jumped to the highest level in more than five months, with officials alarmed by infections being found outside of quarantine that show the virus is still spreading in the community.
The capital reported 78 new infections Wednesday, the most since May 22. The city has reported double-digit daily cases for most of the past month, though numbers started to spike in recent days, doubling from 39 on Nov. 4.
Six cases were found outside of isolation facilities, up from one infection the day before. China, which automatically quarantines confirmed cases and their close contacts, monitors community transmission as a key indicator of whether an outbreak is under control. While the numbers are small by global standards, with much of the world now living with Covid, they’re high for a country that is continuing to try and eliminate the virus.
“Currently Beijing continues to find cases through community testing, which shows that risks of hidden transmissions in the community persist,” Liu Xiaofeng from the Beijing Center for Disease Control told reporters at a briefing Tuesday. That was a change from a day before when another CDC official said that the capital has effectively controlled most of the transmission chains through fast and scientific virus controls and the cooperation of the public.
More than 10 buildings and neighborhoods in Beijing’s central Chaoyang district, where most of the cases have been found, were locked down. Residents can’t leave their homes or housing complexes unless they’re getting a Covid test, and more than 4,400 Communist Party cadres have been dispatched to assist with the needs of those under lockdown, according to a district official.
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The nation’s biggest outbreak is in Guangdong province, which is the main driver of the national caseload rising to 7,740 on Tuesday, the highest tally since April 29. Most of the cases are in the southern metropolis of Guangzhou, which reported 2,637 cases and locked down a second district from 9 a.m. Wednesday.
The swelling outbreaks show the strain China’s Covid Zero strategy is facing, with even harsh lockdowns and constant mass testing failing to quickly get them under control. Health officials over the weekend reaffirmed the country’s unswerving commitment to the policy, even as it hammers the economy, dashing hopes that authorities will soon move toward easing some of their strictest rules.
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