China’s Covid cases hit record high as dissent grows over tough restrictions


China reported a record daily number of Covid infections on Thursday, as a surge in cases nationwide puts pressure on the country’s increasingly popular 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 during Shanghai’s month-long lockdown on April 13.

The surge is fueled by outbreaks in several cities and despite authorities refusing to end strict infection controls in the face of a growing backlash against orders for unprecedented lockdowns, quarantines and mass testing.

Meanwhile, a stream of Covid-related deaths has added further pressure to the mess. Beijing on Wednesday recorded its fourth Covid-related death since last weekend, along with 1,648 local infections – the third straight day of more than 1,000 local cases.

On Thursday, city officials said they were turning a major exhibition space into a makeshift hospital for the quarantine and treatment of Covid patients.

That was the latest sign that the capital had stepped up Covid controls. Earlier this week, schools in several districts moved classes online, Chaoyang – the epicenter of the city’s outbreak and home to many international businesses and embassies – told residents to stay at home and closed restaurants, gyms and beauty salons.

The video shows a rare protest in Beijing that the Chinese leader will extend his reign

China, the world’s last major economy still following strict zero-Covid measures, announced limited policy easing earlier this month in what some observers saw as a sign the government was acknowledging its shortcomings.

He recommended unnecessary mass testing and an overzealous classification of “high-risk” restricted areas, scrapped quarantine requirements for close secondary contacts, and reduced quarantine for close contacts and international arrivals.

After the announcement, several Chinese cities suspended mass Covid-testing, but residents continue to navigate a dizzying array of restrictions, especially when outbreaks occur.

Signs that people have had enough are becoming increasingly dramatic and rare protests have broken out in a country where authorities have traditionally suppressed signs of dissent.

Protests broke out this week at the world’s largest iPhone assembly factory in the city of Zhengzhou. Videos on social media showed workers fighting riot police after authorities tried to lock down the facility following an explosion. It’s been a week since some residents of Guangzhou’s southern manufacturing hub rebelled against a prolonged blockade, tearing down fences and marching through the streets.

Fueling the anger of citizens trapped in the lockdowns are recurring problems, such as getting quick medical attention or securing enough food and supplies, or losing jobs and income.

Guangzhou twitter vpx 3

Crowds break down street barriers as anger over Covid restrictions spills over