Covid-19: Beijing sent into ‘lockdown’ again after spike in cases

Chinese authorities have reportedly imposed a new quarantine on Beijing in response to a significant spike in Covid-19 cases.

From today, residents of the country’s capital will be forced to show a 48-hour negative PCR test in order to gain access to public buildings.

Earlier this month, Beijing, along with several other cities, pledged to ease strict lockdown restrictions.

However, almost three years after the start of the pandemic, the number of Covid cases in China is now higher than ever.

A total of 31,527 cases were reported in China on Wednesday, the highest number in the entire pandemic. The previous peak was 28,000 in April.

The death rate from Covid in China remains low, but the reliability of official data released by Beijing is being questioned.

China’s coronavirus policy may have saved lives, but it’s hurting the local economy.

“In Beijing, one case after another is bolted. The authorities won’t use the word, but this city is essentially on lockdown,” Sky News analyst Helen-Anne Smith said.

It comes after China ordered the isolation of six million people in a city where violent protests erupted at an iPhone factory over Covid lockdown policies and working conditions.

Hundreds of workers took to the streets around a massive iPhone factory in Zhengzhou on Wednesday, clashing with staff wearing hazmat suits armed with batons in a rare display of public outrage in China.

After the riots, Zhengzhou authorities ordered mass testing and effective lockdowns in several areas of the central Chinese city starting Friday.

City center residents cannot leave the area unless they have a negative Covid test and permission from local authorities and are advised not to leave their homes “unnecessarily”.

The restrictions will affect more than six million people, but do not extend to the iPhone factory, where workers have been under Covid restrictions for weeks.

A worker told AFP that the protests began over disagreements over promised bonuses at a factory run by Taiwanese tech giant Foxconn.

Many workers were also outraged by the “disorderly” living conditions, said the worker, who requested anonymity.

Foxconn issued an apology on Thursday, blaming a “technical error” in its payment systems for the payroll issues and saying it “fully understands” employees’ concerns.

“The company will also make every effort to actively address employee concerns and reasonable demands,” the statement said.

Apple told AFP that it has representatives at the plant and they are “looking into the situation and working closely with Foxconn to ensure that their employees’ concerns are resolved.”

The curbs in Zhengzhou are part of China’s national zero-tolerance approach to Covid, which includes grueling lockdowns, travel restrictions and mass testing.

There were 31,444 domestic infections on Wednesday, the highest number since the pandemic began, according to the National Health Commission.

with AFP

Originally published as Beijing sent into ‘lockdown’ again after spike in Covid cases