China on Saturday reported its highest number of COVID-19 cases since May, and millions of people across the country are spending the weekend in lockdown under a strict “zero COVID” policy.
China is the last major country in the world to pursue the goal of eradicating the epidemic through lockdowns, long quarantines and mass testing, even though the strategy is having a huge impact on the economy.
A total of 450 COVID-19 cases, mostly asymptomatic, were reported across the country on Saturday, up from 432 the day before, officials said.
This week’s surge in cases has led to new restrictions being adopted in many parts of the country.
Lanzhou, the capital of northwestern Gansu province, ordered its 4.4 million residents to stay at home on Wednesday. One of the counties in Anhui province (east) has been under lockdown since Friday.
Earlier this week, a general lockdown was imposed on Wugang, a major steelmaking center in central Henan province, after a single case of COVID-19 was discovered.
In Beihai in Guangxi (southern) province, authorities announced partial lockdowns on Saturday in two districts with more than 800,000 residents.
“At present, the epidemic prevention and control situation in Beihai City is severe and complex, and the risk of community spread is relatively high,” a government notice announcing the restrictions said.
The fast-spreading Omicron variant poses a major challenge to China’s “Zero COVID” policy.
The country saw its economic growth collapse in the second quarter, signing its worst performance since 2020, mainly due to health restrictions.