China has reportedly ordered another lockdown in Beijing in response to a significant rise in Covid-19 cases.
Schools, restaurants, gyms, beauty salons and other facilities are closed this week, the state-run CGTN network says.
As of today, residents of the country’s capital must show a negative PCR test for 48 hours to gain access to public buildings.
Beijing, along with several other cities, had pledged earlier this month to ease strict lockdown restrictions.
However, now, almost three years after the pandemic, there are more Covid cases than ever in China.
A total of 31,527 cases were recorded in China on Wednesday – the highest number of the pandemic. The previous peak was 28,000 in April.
Several other cities, including Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chongqing, have tightened Covid restrictions as cases have risen.
The number of deaths from Covid remains low in China, but the validity of the official figures released by Beijing is being questioned.
China’s zero-Covid policy has arguably saved lives, but it is hurting the local economy.
“In Beijing, case after case is being shut down. The authorities won’t use the word, but this city is essentially on lockdown,” said Sky News analyst Helen-Ann Smith.
It came after China ordered six million people to lock down in a city where violent protests erupted at an iPhone factory over Covid isolation policies and working conditions.
Hundreds of workers took to the streets around the massive iPhone factory in Zhengzhou on Wednesday and confronted hazmat-clad staff with batons 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.
City center residents cannot leave the area unless they have a negative Covid test and permission from local authorities, and are advised not to leave their homes “unless necessary”.
The restrictions will affect more than six million people but do not cover the iPhone factory, where workers have been under Covid restrictions for weeks.
A worker told AFP the protests had started after a dispute over promised bonuses at the factory, led by Taiwanese technology giant Foxconn.
Many workers were also outraged by the “chaotic” living conditions, said the worker, who wished to remain anonymous.
Foxconn apologized on Thursday, blaming a “technical flaw” in its payment systems for the payroll issues, saying it “completely understands” workers’ concerns.
“The company will also do its best to actively resolve employee concerns and reasonable demands,” it said.
Apple told AFP it had representatives on site at the plant and was “looking into the situation and working closely with Foxconn to ensure their employees’ concerns are addressed.”
The curbs in Zhengzhou are part of China’s national zero-tolerance approach to Covid, which involves grueling lockdowns, travel restrictions and mass testing.
— with AFP