China has reportedly ordered a new lockdown in Beijing in response to a spike in Covid-19 cases.
Schools, restaurants, gyms, beauty salons and other facilities are closed this week, state-run network CGTN says.
From today, residents of the nation’s capital will have to show a negative PCR test for 48 hours in order to gain access to public buildings.
Beijing, along with several other cities, committed to easing strict lockdown restrictions earlier this month.
However, after nearly three years into the epidemic, Covid cases are now higher than they were in China.
A total of 31,527 cases were recorded in China on Wednesday – the highest tally of the epidemic. The previous peak was 28,000 in April.
Many other cities, including Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chongqing, have tightened Covid restrictions as cases rise.
Covid deaths remain low in China, but the validity of official figures from Beijing has been called into question.
China’s zero-Covid policy has arguably saved lives but is hurting the local economy.
“In Beijing, one business has been shut down after another. The authorities won’t use the word, but basically this city is on lockdown,” said Helen Ann Smith, a Sky News analyst.
It came after China ordered six million people to go into lockdown in a city where violent protests erupted at the iPhone factory over Covid isolation policies and working conditions.
Hundreds of workers took to the streets around the massive iPhone factory in the city of Zhengzhou on Wednesday, confronting hazmat-clad personnel wielding clubs in a rare display of public anger in China.
In the wake of the unrest, Zhengzhou authorities ordered mass testing and an effective lockdown of several districts in the central Chinese city from Friday.
Downtown residents cannot leave the area unless they have a negative Covid test and obtain permission from local authorities, and are advised not to leave their homes “unless necessary”.
The restrictions will affect more than six million people, but they do not cover the iPhone factory, where workers have already been under Covid restrictions for weeks.
One worker told AFP the protests began over a dispute over promised bonuses at the factory run by Taiwanese tech giant Foxconn.
The worker, who wished to remain anonymous, said many workers were angry about the “chaotic” living conditions.
Foxconn on Thursday issued an apology, blaming a “technical error” in its payment systems for the payroll issues and saying it “completely understands” the employees’ concerns.
“The company will do its best to resolve employees’ reasonable concerns and demands,” it said.
Apple told AFP it had representatives on the ground at the factory and was “reviewing the situation and working closely with Foxconn to ensure its employees’ concerns are addressed.”
The restrictions in Zhengzhou are part of China’s national zero-tolerance approach to Covid, which includes harsh lockdowns, travel restrictions and mass testing.
– With Agence France-Presse
Originally published as Beijing sent into ‘lockdown’ again after surge in Covid cases