Covid-19: Corona largely paralyzes cities in China

A record wave of new corona infections is leading to ever greater restrictions on the population in China.

Covid-19: Corona largely paralyzes cities in China

A record wave of new corona infections is leading to ever greater restrictions on the population in China. The capital Beijing is reminiscent of a ghost town, in other parts of the country millions of people are completely in lockdown. And that in year three of the pandemic - while many other countries have long since lifted most of the corona measures.

The Beijing Health Commission reported 31,444 new infections nationwide. The number of cases is therefore not exceptionally high in an international comparison. For China, however, it is the most corona cases since the early chaos days of the pandemic, when the virus broke out in the central Chinese metropolis of Wuhan almost three years ago. The Omicron variants, which are easier to transfer, are held responsible for the recent rapid increase in numbers.

More restrictions

Along with the number of infections, which has been increasing for weeks, there have recently been more and more restrictions on everyday life in many metropolises. While the rest of the world wants to live with the virus, China continues to implement a strict zero-Covid strategy with lockdowns, mass daily testing, strict control, contact tracing and forced quarantine. The government had recently adjusted some corona rules and, among other things, reduced the duration of the quarantine when entering China from ten to eight days. But there can be no question of a lasting relaxation.

New measures have recently been imposed in almost all major cities, Beijing is reminiscent of a ghost town: schools, kindergartens and shops are closed. People were asked not to be in public if possible. Increasingly, residential complexes are also being completely sealed off. A resident of Beijing speaks of a "mood of doom."

In southern China's Guangzhou, with around 18 million inhabitants, several districts of the city are in complete lockdown. Meanwhile, the metropolis of Shanghai announced that travelers coming to the city will not be allowed to go to restaurants or shops for five days. The mega-metropolis of Chongqing only allows its approximately 30 million inhabitants to leave the country in urgent cases and with a negative corona test. A patchwork quilt is developing - the corona situation in the country is becoming increasingly confusing.

"Stop testing and build hospitals"

According to observers, China is in a dead end. The Beijing Health Commission continues to justify sticking to the strict measures by saying that opening the country would result in many deaths. Doctors also warn that the health system would be hopelessly overwhelmed if the virus was allowed to spread freely across the country. But the anger is growing among the population. "Stop testing and build hospitals," writes a user on the Wechat news service. Another user describes the situation as a "bottomless pit".

The government has come under criticism because it is clear that the authorities have used most of their capacity for constant mass testing and lockdowns over the past three years. Preparations for a way out of the pandemic were not made sufficiently. The vaccination rate for the entire population is around 90 percent, but there are significant vaccination gaps among the elderly. Only 40 percent of those over 80 have received two vaccinations and a booster so far.

Beijing announced with its latest package of measures that it wants to push ahead with the vaccination campaign. A stock of anti-corona drugs is also to be set up and additional fever clinics to treat patients are to be set up. But not everything can be implemented overnight.

Increasingly, people's dissatisfaction is also expressed in protests. Angry migrant workers tore down barricades in Guangzhou last week. On Wednesday there were serious clashes between workers at Apple supplier Foxconn and security forces in the city of Zhengzhou. Workers have been complaining about poor conditions at the plant for weeks. Many have fled. In response to the protests, the authorities did not react with any easing. On the contrary: now the whole of Zhengzhou with its around 10 million inhabitants is in lockdown.

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