China’s Covid-19 cases rise as big cities put curbs on movement

In Beijing, residents will be required to provide a negative PCR test result before being allowed to enter public venues. PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING - China’s daily Covid-19 infections rose to just under a record high, as major cities from Beijing to Shanghai placed curbs on peoples’ movements to try to contain swelling outbreaks. 

There were 28,183 new cases recorded for Tuesday, up from 27,307 for Monday and just shy of the record 28,973 reached in April when Shanghai’s outbreak sparked a surge in infections.  

The spike in cases comes at a key moment for China, with top leaders’ directions for a more targeted approach to containing Covid-19 spurring confusion on the ground. After easing off on testing and movement restrictions – in line with a new 20-point virus playbook issued by Beijing – officials in some places are imposing mass testing orders and lockdowns again, as they strive to meet the overriding objective of suppressing Covid-19.

While city-wide lockdowns like in Shanghai earlier this year have not been ordered this time, a growing web of restrictions means that a total of 48 Chinese cities are subject to some form of district-level or widespread movement restrictions, according to data compiled by Nomura Holdings Inc. analysts. 

In the latest curbs, Shanghai will ask new arrivals into the city to stay away from public venues for five days starting from Thursday, as the financial centre seeks to insulate itself from the nationwide Covid-19 surge. 

People travelling into Shanghai, which reported 68 cases for Tuesday, will be barred from places including restaurants, pubs, shopping malls, supermarkets and wet markets, as well as internet cafes and other entertainment venues for those five days, the local government said late Tuesday. 

In Beijing, which reported the nation’s first Covid-19 deaths in almost six months over the weekend, residents will be required to provide a negative PCR test result taken within the previous 48 hours before being allowed to enter public venues or catch a bus from Thursday.

Schools across swathes of the capital, which recorded 1,476 infections for Tuesday, have been shuttered, with students told to study from home. 

Shenzhen will also require residents to provide negative PCR results within the past 48 hours before taking public transportation or entering public venues from Thursday.

Areas of Guangzhou, home to the biggest outbreak in China, remain locked down. The Haizhu district, which started levying Covid-19 curbs a month ago, extended its lockdown in parts late Tuesday. Restrictions in Chongqing mean the south-western megacity is largely in lockdown, despite no sweeping order or directive. 

Elsewhere, major cities are starting to roll out mass testing once again. Tianjin ordered two rounds of testing for its 14 million residents on Friday and Saturday, citing a growing outbreak. The city, which neighbors the national capital, reported 245 new cases, tripling from a week ago. Chengdu is also carrying out testing in some areas this week. BLOOMBERG

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