China recorded the highest number of COVID-19 cases since May on Saturday, and millions of people across the country were spending the weekend in lockdown under a strict “zero COVID” policy.
China is the last major country in the world to pursue the goal of stamping out the epidemic through lockdowns, lengthy quarantines and mass testing, even though this strategy has a significant impact on the economy.
A total of 450 cases of COVID-19, most of them asymptomatic, were recorded across the country on Saturday, up from 432 the day before, the authorities said.
This increase in cases this week led to the adoption of new restrictions in several parts of the country.
Lanzhou, the capital of northwestern Gansu Province, on Wednesday ordered its 4.4 million residents to stay at home. A county in Anhui Province (east) has been on lockdown since Friday.
Earlier this week, a general lockdown was imposed on Wugang, a major steelmaking center in central Henan Province, after one case of COVID-19 was found.
In Beihai, in (south) Guangxi Province, the authorities announced on Saturday partial restrictions on two districts with a population of more than 800,000.
“Currently, the epidemic prevention and control situation in Beihai City is serious and complex, and the risk of community transmission is relatively high,” said a government notice announcing the restrictions.
The rapidly spreading Omicron variant poses a major challenge to China’s “zero COVID” policy.
The country witnessed the collapse of its economic growth in the second quarter to record its worst performance since 2020, due to health restrictions in particular.
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