China expands lockdowns as COVID-19 cases hit daily record

China’s National Health Commission reported 31,444 COVID-19 infections Thursday, the highest daily number on record since the coronavirus was first detected in Wuhan in late 2019.

While China’s overall vaccination rate is over 92%, and a zero-tolerance policy still applies, the infection rate shows no signs of slowing.

“The number of new infections is constantly increasing. Since November, 1,253,000 cases have been reported nationwide,” said Hu Xiang, inspector of the Infectious Disease Department of the National Bureau of Disease Control and Prevention.

“Last week, an average of 22,200 cases were reported each day, double the number of the previous week,” he added.

Cases and deaths in China are relatively low compared to the United States, India or France, but the government remains firm in its policy of not spreading the virus.

The Communist Party announced a new wave of lockdowns in an effort to contain the spread of the virus. Millions of people in China are once again under mass quarantine.

In Beijing, workers in protective suits installed metal barriers in some neighborhoods where coronavirus cases have been detected.

People can only go out to buy food or receive medical treatment, and to do so, they must scan their health QR codes.

Beijing this week opened a hospital in an exhibition center and suspended access to Beijing International Studies University after a case was detected there.

The capital earlier closed shopping malls and office buildings and suspended entry to some apartment complexes.

In the industrial city of Zhengzhou, 6.6 million residents have been ordered to stay home for 5 days until COVID-19 cases subside.

The party is trying to contain the latest wave of the outbreak without shutting down factories and the rest of its economy as it did in early 2020.

Its tactics include “closed-loop management” under which workers live in their factories with no outside contact.

While authorities have shortened quarantine periods and pledged to improve COVID-19 protocols to help ease travel, some residents say the country’s tough restrictions go beyond what the national government allows.

It comes as workers at Foxconn, the world’s largest smartphone maker, clashed with police earlier this week amid reports of low wages and unsafe working and living conditions at the Zhengzhou factory.

The facility of about 200,000 workers was closed earlier this month after an increase in infections at the site.

Some Covid-Negative employees have claimed they were forced to work alongside colleagues who tested positive but were not quarantined. The workers are now demanding the owners to be paid the salaries and bonuses they deserve.

Tech giant Apple, one of Foxconn’s key partners, has warned that it expects to receive fewer shipments of iPhone models and will struggle to resume full production by the end of November.

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