China on Thursday reported a record number of daily Covid infections, as a nationwide surge in cases heaps pressure on the country’s increasingly unpopular zero-tolerance approach to the virus.
The National Health Commission (NHC) recorded 31,444 locally transmitted cases on Wednesday – surpassing the previous peak of 29,317 recorded April 13 during Shanghai’s months-long lockdown.
The surge is being fueled by outbreaks in multiple cities and comes despite a refusal by authorities to end tight infection controls even in the face of an increasing – and unprecedented – backlash against their hardline approach of incessant lockdowns, quarantines and mass testing mandates.
Meanwhile, a trickle of Covid-related fatalities has added further pressure to the mix. Beijing on Wednesday recorded its fourth Covid-related death since last weekend, alongside 1,648 local infections – its third consecutive day of more than 1,000 local cases.
On Thursday, city officials said they were converting a major exhibition center into a makeshift hospital for the quarantine and treatment of Covid patients.
That was just the latest sign of the capital ratcheting up Covid controls. Earlier this week, schools in several districts moved classes online while Chaoyang – epicenter of the city’s outbreak and home to many international businesses and embassies – urged residents to stay at home and shuttered restaurants, gyms and beauty salons.
China, the world’s last major economy still enforcing strict zero-Covid measures, announced a limited easing of the policy earlier this month in what some observers saw as a sign of the government acknowledging its shortfalls.
It discouraged unnecessary mass testing and overly zealous classification of restricted “high risk” areas, scrapped quarantine requirements for secondary close contacts, and reduced quarantine for close contacts and international arrivals. (SOURCE)