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new case record in China, the population is annoyed by the restrictions

China listed 31,444 Covid-19 cases on Wednesday, a new record as authorities scramble to stem the spread of the virus through mass testing, travel restrictions and lockdowns, such as in Zhengzhou . A strategy that causes the weariness and resentment of the population.

The daily number of Covid-19 cases has reached a new record in China, authorities announced on Thursday (November 24th) who are increasing strict confinements, mass tests and travel restrictions, at the risk of exhausting the population, including the anger growls.

China listed 31,444 new local cases on Wednesday, of which 27,517 are asymptomatic, the health ministry said. These new figures are higher than the 29,317 local infections recorded in mid-April, when Shanghai – the world’s third most populous city – was under lockdown and its residents struggled to buy food and access medical care. .

These figures appear relatively low in view of the vast Chinese population, which has more than 1.4 billion inhabitants, and the records observed in Western countries at the height of the pandemic.

Zhengzhou confined

But under the strict “zero Covid” policy that Beijing tirelessly applies, the slightest increase in cases leads to the closure of entire cities and the placing of contacts of infected patients in strict quarantine.

Zhengzhou, a city in central China which hosts a huge iPhone factory, has rightly ordered the confinement of several districts. Residents of the city center are no longer allowed to leave the area without a negative Covid test and permission from local authorities, and are advised not to leave their homes “unless necessary”, city authorities have announced.

These restrictions, which will last for five days from Friday midnight, affect more than 6 million people, or about half of the city’s population. The authorities’ notice, released late Wednesday, also requires all residents of eight districts to undergo a daily PCR test during the five-day period.

This relentless strategy is causing the weariness and resentment of whole sections of the population, as the pandemic, detected at the end of 2019 in China, is approaching its third year. China is the only major economy in the world to continue to impose such restrictions, prompting sporadic protests.

The order announced by the city of Zhengzhou comes after violent protests at the city’s sprawling iPhone factory complex earlier this week. The Taiwanese group Foxconn also apologized Thursday for wages in its factory. “Our team has reviewed the matter and has discovered that a technical error has occurred,” a statement read. “We apologize for an input error in the computer system and guarantee that the actual compensation is the same as that agreed,” added the group.

Several major cities, including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chongqing, have also tightened restrictions on positive cases. The manufacturing hub of Guangzhou in the south of the country, where nearly a third of Covid cases were discovered, has built thousands of temporary hospital rooms to accommodate patients.

“Slow, expensive and bumpy”

Beijing, which has experienced an epidemic outbreak in recent days, dozens of residential buildings have been confined and companies are generalizing teleworking.

The capital requires a negative 48-hour PCR test result to enter public places such as shopping malls, hotels and government buildings, the city government said.

Schools, restaurants and businesses closed again, fear of being placed in quarantine: a large part of the inhabitants of Beijing are now mentally exhausted by these restrictions, which are often vague and changing, the duration of which is never announced in advance.

The capital announced on Wednesday nearly 1,500 new positive cases (the vast majority asymptomatic) for 22 million inhabitants, a level which remains very low according to international criteria.

The reaction of the Chinese authorities seems disproportionate compared to that of many other countries in the world, which have learned to live with the virus. But China has yet to approve the public use of more effective mRNA vaccines, and only 85% of adults over the age of 60 had received two doses of the national vaccines by mid-August, according to Chinese health authorities.

And Shijiazhuang, a township neighboring Beijing that was seen as a pilot city to test reopening strategies, reversed most of its easing measures this week.

“The road to reopening could be slow, costly and bumpy,” Ting Lu, chief China economist at Nomura, said in a note. “Shanghai-like full shutdowns could be avoided, but they could be replaced by more frequent partial shutdowns in an increasing number of cities due to soaring Covid case numbers.”

With AFP