China imposes lockdowns as COVID-19 surges after holidays

BEIJING – Chinese cities imposed new lockdowns and travel restrictions after daily new COVID-19 cases tripled during a week-long holiday before a large gathering of the communist party next week in Beijing.

The latest lockdown began Monday in the city of Fenyang, north China’s Shanxi Province, after a preliminary positive case was found in city-wide testing the previous day, state broadcaster CCTV reported.

In the nearby Inner Mongolia region, the capital Hohhot announced that outside vehicles and passengers would be banned from entering the city from Tuesday. Hohhot has recorded more than 2,000 cases in about 12 days.

China is one of the few places in the world that is still taking tough measures to prevent the spread of the disease. The longtime ruling Communist Party is particularly concerned as it seeks to project a positive image of the nation ahead of a five-year party convention that begins on Sunday.

Travel was canceled during an annual National Day holiday that began on October 1 The authorities discouraged people prevent them from leaving their cities and provinces. However, the number of new cases per day has risen to around 1,800 from 600 at the start of the break.

Leaders don’t want a major outbreak to eclipse Congress, but their strict “zero-COVID” approach has taken an economic toll, particularly on small businesses and temporary workers. Many in China are hoping that pandemic policies will ease after the hit.

Outbreaks have been reported across the country, with the largest in Inner Mongolia and the Xinjiang region in the extreme west. Both register several hundred new cases every day.

Both Shanghai, where residents endured extended lockdowns earlier this year, and the nation’s capital, Beijing, have seen small but growing numbers of cases. Two districts in Shanghai announced closures of movie theaters and other entertainment venues last week.

Queuing for a free virus test several times a week has become the norm for many Chinese, with Beijing and other cities requiring a negative test result within 72 hours to enter parks, office buildings, shops and other public places.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, transcribed or redistributed without permission. China imposes lockdowns as COVID-19 surges after holidays

Sarah Y. Kim

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