China sees biggest surge in Covid-19 cases in two years, locks down Changchun city. 5 things to know | Mint
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Business News/ News / World/  China sees biggest surge in Covid-19 cases in two years, locks down Changchun city. 5 things to know
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China sees biggest surge in Covid-19 cases in two years, locks down Changchun city. 5 things to know

The provincial capital Changchun, a city of 9 million people, was put into a lockdown on Friday, with residents asked to stay home while the city conducts three rounds of mass testing

President Xi Jinping called for all necessary measures to get Hong Kongs virus outbreak under control, an unusually direct intervention that leaves the citys leaders even less room to deviate from Chinas Covid Zero policy.  (Bloomberg)Premium
President Xi Jinping called for all necessary measures to get Hong Kongs virus outbreak under control, an unusually direct intervention that leaves the citys leaders even less room to deviate from Chinas Covid Zero policy.  (Bloomberg)

In the wake of highly infectious omicron variant spawning outbreaks at a scale only seen at the peak of the start of the pandemic, China’s daily Covid-19 caseload exceeded 1,000 for the first time in two years. Here is a look at what is going on in the country.

As per ANI report, China reported 476 new locally transmitted Covid-19 cases, the National Health Commission said on Saturday. Of these infections, 159 were reported in Shandong, 134 in Jilin, 35 in Tianjin, 33 in Guangdong, 30 in Shaanxi, 23 in Zhejiang, 22 in Hebei, 20 in Jiangsu and the rest of the cases were reported in seven other provincial-level regions, Xinhua reported citing commission's daily report.

The National Health Commission showed China reported 1,100 domestic infections on Friday and the tally has ballooned from just over 300 cases a day in less than a week, presenting a significant challenge to China’s ongoing, zero-tolerance approach to the virus.

Interestingly, the Covid Zero strategy that helped keep China largely virus-free for much of the pandemic now appears to be buckling as omicron repeatedly breaks through one of the the world’s most stringent remaining containment regimes, Bloomberg report said. Covid’s spread in the nation’s biggest cities, including financial hub Shanghai, also makes it difficult to deploy the aggressive but disruptive restrictions officials are increasingly turning to, chief among them lockdowns. 

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said on Friday that the world should be working more closely together to create the conditions for a return to normal post-pandemic. In a press conference marking the end of the annual National People’s Congress in Beijing, he said officials will work to make China’s response more scientific and targeted and to maintain the normal functioning of everyday life and supply chains.

With the swelling outbreak, China is seeing more people infected without obvious symptoms than those who are sickened by the virus -- likely resulting from omicron’s diminished virulence and China’s mass vaccination drive that’s seen nearly 90% of its 1.4 billion people fully inoculated with locally-developed shots and more than one-third boosted. Of Friday’s cases, 703 were asymptomatic.

Additionally, an outbreak in the northeastern province of Jilin -- which borders Russia and North Korea -- has seen authorities move quickly to build three makeshift hospitals with a capacity for some 1,200 beds. The provincial capital Changchun, a city of 9 million people, was put into a lockdown on Friday, with residents asked to stay home while the city conducts three rounds of mass testing.

Meanwhile in Shanghai, which is confronting its worst outbreak of the pandemic, authorities are testing students from kindergarten to college. The city has largely refrained from deploying the sweeping curbs commonly used in smaller cities, such as lockdowns, but the growing outbreak may test the limit of this more targeted response.

Stocks tied to the prospect of China reopening, including airlines, travel companies and restaurants fell Friday. Air China Ltd. dropped as much as 4.2%, Trip.com Group Ltd. slumped 13% and hot-pot chain Haidilao International Holding Ltd. shed 10%.

Beijing recently pledged it would be sticking to Covid Zero, even as other parts of the world dismantle pandemic curbs and open up -- leaving China isolated. Still, there are signs the country’s health officials and experts are at least considering how they may exit the approach and live with the virus as endemic. China approved the antiviral pill Paxlovid developed by Pfizer Inc. last month, a move seen by many as evidence of that planning. 

(With inputs from agencies)

 

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Published: 12 Mar 2022, 08:52 AM IST
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