New Covid-19 cases in China near 1,000, a test to its zero-tolerance policy


New Covid-19 cases in China jumped to almost 1,000, with more infectious strains continuing to pressure the country’s goal of eliminating the virus as outbreaks spread beyond major cities.

China reported 935 cases for Tuesday (July 19), up from 699 on Monday, and the highest daily tally since May 21.

The majority of cases are centered in the hotspots of the Guangxi region in the south, which recorded 277 cases on Tuesday, taking its total since the outbreak there flared a week ago to 1,106, and the remote northwestern province of Gansu, which reported 353 new infections, taking its current outbreak to 1,306.

Most of Gansu’s capital, Lanzhou, has been locked down for almost a week, and city officials on Tuesday launched a “door knocking” campaign to rout out hidden cases.

Ten thousand medical workers enlisted from around the province are going door-to-door to carry out PCR testing in the city’s high- and medium-risk areas. The campaign came after Gansu’s Governor Ren Zhenhe said the Covid-19 situation remained complex and community transmission has not been stopped.

While Shanghai’s Covid-19 situation is less dire, officials in the city, which endured a bruising lockdown during April and May, are taking no chances, rolling out a testing blitz this week in 13 of the financial center’s 16 districts that are home to around 22 million people.

Shanghai reported 15 cases on Tuesday, down from 23 the previous day. Daily cases in the city have dropped from earlier this month, but they have held in double-digits for more than two weeks, and high-risk areas continue to be locked down.

Meanwhile, a move by Beijing to extend a ban on hotels hosting weddings, parties and conferences despite the low number of cases in the capital has stirred criticism on social media platforms.

The city recorded just one case on Tuesday, and daily infections have held in single digits for almost five weeks.

“Where are staff in the hotel industry headed to?” one user wrote on Weibo. “This is neither rational nor reasonable,” another said.

China’s adherence to the Covid-Zero strategy, which requires mass testing, snap lockdowns and travel restrictions, has exacted a heavy economic and social toll.

Last quarter, the economy grew at the slowest pace since the first virus outbreak more than two years ago, and growth will likely miss the government’s goal of about 5.5 percent for the full year.

President Xi Jinping has made zero tolerance for Covid-19 a hallmark of his rule, saying the country would not pursue “herd immunity” like other nations because it would exact too much of a toll, particularly on China’s elderly people, who have lower vaccination rates.

In a speech late Tuesday to global business leaders hosted by the World Economic Forum, Premier Li Keqiang said China will make Covid-19 control measures more targeted and also increase international passenger flights.

Li said, outbound commerce and trade activities and cross-border travel for labor services will be advanced in an orderly fashion.



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