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Coronavirus: China returns to lockdowns “like two years ago” and quarantines more than 36 million people

Closed schools, teleworking and packages sprayed with disinfectant at the doors of the house.

The scenes that took place two years ago in China, in the harshest period of confinement that tried to stop the expansion of covid-19, have returned to some large cities in the Asian giant.

Millions of people across the country are now facing tough restrictions due to the rebound in coronavirus cases.

Among the areas affected by new measures are some neuralgic points of the country such as the technology hub Shenzhen and the megacity of Shanghai.

Even large multinational companies have stopped some operations as China expands the confined zones.

Toyota, Volkswagen and Apple supplier Foxconn are among the companies affected and there are concerns that supply chains could be disrupted again.

All of Jilin province

China on Tuesday reported a record of more than 5,000 cases, the majority in Jilin province, prompting authorities to completely lock down the area.

The 24 million residents of this northeastern province they received quarantine orders last Monday.

It is the first time China has restricted an entire province since the closure of Wuhan and Hebei at the beginning of the pandemic.

Jilin residents have been banned from moving and anyone who wants to leave the province must apply for a police permit.

The measures come a day after he imposed a five-day lockdown on the 12.5 million residents of the southern city of Shenzhenwhere all bus and metro services are suspended.

man with face mask

On Tuesday, the authorities of the city of Langfang, which borders the capital Beijing, as well as Dongguanin the southern province of Guangdong, also immediately imposed closures.

Businesses in many of the affected regions have been told to close or have their employees work from home, unless they are providing essential services such as food, utilities or other necessities.

Foxconn, which makes iPhones for Apple, It halted operations in Shenzhen on Monday, saying the date of its resumption “will be informed by the local government.”

Some residential areas are enforcing strict rules about who can enter.

The pthose are being sprayed with disinfectant again at the doors of the houses.

Analysis by Robin Brant, BBC Shanghai Correspondent

It seems that China has regressed two years. It is back to the early days of the outbreak that first emerged in the Asian giant.

Drastic and large-scale measures are once again being imposed to try to contain the virus. An entire province has been sealed off.

Jilin’s closure is similar in many respects to that of Hubei in early 2020the area of ​​China where it all began.

Shenzhen, the technological center of world importance, is also a confined city.

Shanghai, where I write this from, is home to 24 million people and a major global hub.

All schools are closed, children have returned to online classes and more and more people are working from home.

All this is part of China’s effort to maintain/retain/recover the “covid zero” strategy.

This objective has been promoted by the massive deployment of Chinese-made vaccines and for the effective closure of borders.

However, that goal is being significantly undermined by the omicron variant.

man disinfecting

China has seen relatively fewer covid cases thanks to its strict “covid zero” policywhich allows you to carry out rapid lockdowns, mass testing and travel restrictions whenever an outbreak arises.

However, the rapid transmissibility of the omicron variant has made sticking to that approach increasingly challenging.

Since the beginning of the year, China has notified more cases of internal transmission than in all of 2021.

China’s top infectious disease expert Zhang Wenhong called the recent outbreaks “the most difficult period in the past two years of fighting Covid.”

And he stated in a widely circulated online post that they were still in “the initial stage of an exponential increase”.

But he added that while it was necessary for China to maintain its “Covid-zero” strategy to control outbreaks for now, “this does not necessarily mean that we will continue to implement the strategy of lockdowns and mass testing forever.”

Source: Elcomercio

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