Covid cases in China break records as dissent grows amid tight restrictions


Beijing
CNN

China A record number of daily Covid infections were reported on Thursday as a nationwide spike in cases puts pressure on the country’s increasingly unpopular zero-tolerance approach to the virus.

The National Health Commission (NHC) recorded 31,444 cases of local transmission on Wednesday, up from the previous peak of 29,317 recorded on April 13. Months of quarantine in Shanghai.

The surge is fueled by outbreaks in several cities and comes despite the authorities’ refusal to end tight infection control even in the face of a growing – and unprecedented – backlash against their tough approach to incessant lockdowns, quarantines and mass testing mandates.

Meanwhile, a trickle of Covid-related deaths have added even more pressure. Beijing on Wednesday recorded its fourth Covid death since last weekend, along with 1,648 local infections, the third consecutive day of more than 1,000 local cases.

On Thursday, city officials said they were turning a major exhibition center into a makeshift hospital to quarantine and treat Covid patients.

It was just the latest sign that the capital is tightening its grip on Covid. Earlier this week, schools in several districts moved classes online, while Chaoyang – the epicenter of the outbreak in the city and home to many international companies and embassies – urged residents to stay at home and closed restaurants, gyms and beauty salons.

China, the world’s last major economy still applying strict coronavirus measures, announced limited policy easing earlier this month in what some observers saw as a sign of government acknowledgment of its shortcomings.

It discouraged unnecessary mass testing and overzealous classification of restricted “high risk” areas, lifted quarantine requirements for secondary close contacts, and reduced quarantine for close contacts and international arrivals.

Since the announcement, several Chinese cities have canceled mass Covid tests, but there remains a dizzying array of restrictions for residents to face, especially during outbreaks.

The signs that people are fed up are becoming more dramatic and rare protests broke out in a country where the authorities traditionally suppress any manifestations of dissent.

Protests broke out this week at the world’s largest iPhone assembly plant in Zhengzhou. Video on social media shows workers confronting riot police after authorities attempted to close the facility following the outbreak. This happened a week after some residents of the southern manufacturing center of Guangzhou rebelled against the extension of the regime of self-isolation tearing down barriers and marching through the streets.

The anger of citizens trapped in self-isolation is fueled by recurring problems, such as the inability to access fast medical care or provide enough food and supplies, as well as the loss of jobs and income.