Beijing shuts parks, museums as China’s COVID cases rise

BEIJING, Nov 22 (Reuters) – Beijing closed parks, shopping malls and museums on Tuesday while more Chinese cities resumed mass testing for Covid-19, as China surged in cases, raising concerns about its economy and dimming hopes of a swift recovery. has done – The reopening of the coronavirus.

China reported 28,127 new local cases nationally on Monday, the highest daily peak since April, with the southern city of Guangzhou and the southwestern municipality of Chongqing accounting for about half of the total.

In the capital Beijing, cases are reaching new highs every day, prompting calls from the city’s government for more residents to stay put.

Health officials attributed the two new deaths to COVID-19, compared with three over the weekend, which were China’s first since May.

The latest wave is testing China’s recent adjustments to its zero-COVID policy, which asks authorities to be more targeted in their clampdown measures and move away from widespread lockdowns and tests that have strangled the economy and frustrated residents.

The municipality of Tianjin, near Beijing, became the latest to order citywide testing on Tuesday, following a similar announcement by Shijiazhuang on Sunday.

Despite the tweaked guidelines, China has remained on the global stage with its strictest Covid restrictions, including all-but-closed borders for nearly three years amid the pandemic.

Strict measures in Beijing and other cities, as China tries to avoid city-wide lockdowns like Shanghai this year, have fueled investor worries about the economy and sent global stocks and oil prices falling overnight.

Nomura analysts said on Tuesday that their in-house index estimated that about 19.9% ​​of China’s total gross domestic product was under some degree of lockdown or curbs, up from 15.6% last Monday and not far from the index’s peak in April, during Shanghai’s lockdown.

Localized lockdown

China’s capital warned on Monday that it was facing its worst test of the Covid-19 pandemic and tightened rules for entering the city, requiring travelers from elsewhere in China to undergo a three-day Covid test before being allowed to leave their residences.

Scores of Beijing residents have seen their buildings locked down, though the restrictions usually last only a few days.

Some city residents said they experienced delays in grocery deliveries due to overcrowding.

Several museums were closed and places such as the Happy Valley amusement park and the city’s sprawling Chaoyang Park, popular with joggers and picnickers, said they would close on Tuesday because of the outbreak. Beijing reported 1,438 new local cases, up from 962 on Sunday.

The central city of Wuhan, where the virus was first detected, issued a notice on Tuesday urging residents to travel only between home and work.

Vice-Premier Sun Chunlan, who leads China’s zero-Covid policy, visited Chongqing on Monday and urged officials there to follow the measures and bring the outbreak under control, the municipality said.

Not as pink

Investors had hoped that China’s more targeted implementation of zero-COVID curbs could lead to more significant easing, but many analysts are cautioning against being too bullish.

Many businesses, especially consumer-facing ones, fear they may not survive into next year as consumers tighten their grip on their cash.

China argues that President Xi Jinping’s signature zero-covid policy saves lives and is necessary to address a strained health care system.

Many experts caution that a full reopening will require a massive vaccination booster effort and a change in messaging in a country where the disease is widely feared. Officials say they plan to build more hospital capacity and fever clinics to screen patients and are preparing a vaccination drive.

“The true picture may not be as rosy as it seems,” Nomura analysts wrote, adding that they expect the pace of reopening to pick up after March next year, when a reshuffle of China’s top leadership is complete.

“Reopening may be back-and-forth as policymakers may back off after seeing a rapid increase in cases and social disruptions. Thus, local officials may be even more reluctant to be early movers when Beijing tries to clarify its true intentions,” Nomura wrote. .

reporting by Beijing and Shanghai newsrooms; Writing by Brenda Goh; Editing by Tony Munro, Miral Fahmy and Gerry Doyle

Our Standards: Principles of Thomson Reuters Trust.

Source link

Leave a Comment