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Why the virus shows no signs of slowing down

Despite strict measures and a no-tolerance approach, China is once again witnessing an upsurge in daily COVID-19 cases.

The country has recorded a record number of new coronavirus cases – 31,454, of which 27,517 are asymptomatic, Reuters cited data from the National Health Bureau on Thursday, November 24.

These latest figures surpassed the previous surge in mid-April when cases reached 29,390 in the country, as the Shanghai financial hub was locked down for two months.

Additionally, new infections are the highest daily figure since COVID-19 was detected in Wuhan in late 2019, reports Associated Press (AP).

China also saw its first coronavirus deaths in six months as the capital, Beijing, reported three fatalities since Saturday, bringing the official death toll in the country to 5,229, according to BBC. Among the three victims, one was an 87-year-old man.

What measures is China taking to stem the transmission of COVID-19? Why are cases rising again even with China’s zero COVID policy? Let’s take a closer look.

China tightens the brakes

As the country reports new outbreaks, several cities including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chongqing have tightened COVID-19 restrictions to control transmission.

According to Nomura’s estimates, nearly 412 million people were affected by lockdown measures in mainland China on Monday, reports CNBC.

Beijing has imposed a lockdown in Haidian and Chaoyang districts and closed shops, schools and restaurants there, noted BBC.

Those traveling to the capital will be required to undergo COVID-19 tests for the first three days of their visit and stay indoors until their reports come back negative, BBC said.

Liu Xiaofeng, deputy director of the Beijing Municipal Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said it was the “most complex and serious” situation ever seen in the capital, Reuters reported.

Zhengzhou, home to Apple Inc’s largest iPhone manufacturing site, has also passed tough curbs to slow the spike in coronavirus cases. The mobility control or lockdown will come into effect in eight districts of Zhengzhou which are home to a total of 6.6 million people.

People have been asked to stay home for five days, starting Thursday, November 24, and only to go out for food or medical treatment. Daily PCR tests will also be conducted in what the city government has dubbed the ‘war of annihilation’ against COVID-19, reports PA.

China has reported a record increase in COVID-19 cases. PA

This comes after Zhengzhou recently saw violent protests at Foxconn, the largest iPhone factory. Workers at the Foxconn Technology Group factory were reportedly beaten by police as they protested over unpaid wages.

Severe restrictions in Guangzhou, which has reported nearly a third of the latest COVID-19 cases, have worsened the plight of hundreds of migrant workers. According to South China Morning Post report, these workers, who are mostly from the central province of Hubei, have been released from the Covid-19 quarantine centers, but they are not allowed to return to their homes in Guangzhou’s Haizhu district.

The report further said that Guangzhou, the southern megacity, recorded up to 7,970 new cases on Tuesday, and the situation does not appear to be improving.

These new restrictions introduced in various cities come just days after China significantly eased its restrictions on November 11. The country has reduced quarantine time for international arrivals, while several cities have also canceled mass COVID-19 testing.

READ ALSO: What is “disease X” which the WHO says can cause future pandemics?

Why are COVID-19 cases continuing to rise in China?

More contagious variants of the coronavirus have challenged China’s goal of reaching zero COVID.

So, despite China’s strict measures, which include mass testing, strict quarantines, instant lockdowns and travel restrictions, the country continues to suffer from new waves of COVID-19.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has said it is “very difficult” to contain the current variant of Omicron that is growing in China because it is more infectious than previous variants of COVID-19, reported. BBC.

“The virus is evolving, changing behavior,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus of the WHO, adding “with that…changing your measures will be very important.”

In October, highly infectious subvariants of Omicron BF.7 and BA.5.1.7 were detected in China.

world times citing officials had said cases had increased since October 4 due to the highly transmissible BF.7 variant, Hindustan time reported.

Additionally, the WHO previously warned of the highly infectious BF.7 COVID-19 subvariant, saying it could become a new dominant variant, reports Hindustan times.

Meanwhile, the International Monitory Fund (IMF) has advised China to step up vaccinations amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

Chinas COVID Conundrum Why the virus shows no signs of slowing down

Omicron, which is spreading in China, is difficult to contain. PA

China has also urged its elderly to get vaccinated. Less than 60% of people aged 60 to 69 have been fully vaccinated in the country, according to BBC.

Health authorities say only 85% of adults over the age of 60 had received the two shots of national vaccines by mid-August in China, reports AFP.

China has also yet to approve more effective mRNA vaccines for the public and continues to rely on local inoculations.

In addition, Chinese authorities believe that vaccination alone cannot stem the rising cases and have insisted on strict restrictions to eliminate the virus, reported. Bloomberg.

Jin Dongyan, a virologist at the University of Hong Kong, called for increased vaccinations, especially booster doses for the elderly and vulnerable.

“If several million people over the age of 80 have not been vaccinated, this will pose a potential risk,” he said. South China Morning Post.

Jin also asked authorities to release information on the current status of the pandemic to quell the panic.

“The most important point is public education. You have to give the right information to the public. Many people’s understanding of COVID is still at the initial level [2020] epidemic in Wuhan. So that’s what needs to be better explained. »

With contributions from agencies

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