Beijing shuts parks, museums as China’s COVID cases rise
Beijing shut parks and museums on Tuesday, and more Chinese cities resumed mass testing for Covid-19, as China fights a fresh nationwide spike in cases that has deepened concerns about its economy.
China reported 28,127 new local cases nationally for Monday, nearing its daily infection peak in April, with cases in the southern city of Guangzhou and the southwestern municipality of Chongqing accounting for about half of the total. In the capital, Beijing, cases have hit a fresh record high, prompting calls for more residents to stay put.
There were two new deaths attributed to Covid-19, compared with three over the weekend, which were China’s first since May.
The latest wave is testing recent adjustments China has made to its zero-Covid policy, which asks authorities to be more targeted in their clampdown measures and steer away from the widespread lockdowns and testing that have strangled the economy and frustrated its citizens.
Beijing on Monday warned that it was facing its most severe test of the pandemic so far and tightened rules for entering the city, requiring arrivals from elsewhere in China to undergo three days of Covid testing before they are permitted to leave their accommodation.
Many museums have been closed and on Tuesday, venues such as the Happy Valley amusement park and the city’s vast Chaoyang Park, a popular spot with runners and picknickers, said they would shut due to the outbreak. Beijing reported 1,438 new local cases, up from 962 on Sunday.
Investors hope that China’s move earlier this month to adopt more targeted approaches in enforcing zero-Covid curbs heralds more significant easing, but many analysts are cautioning against being too bullish.
“The real picture may not be as rosy as it seems,” Nomura analysts said in a separate note, saying they only expected a reopening to be sped up after March next year, when the reshuffle of China’s top leadership is completed.
“Reopening could be back and forth as policymakers may back down after observing rapid increases in cases and social disruptions. As such, local officials may be even more reluctant to be the initial movers when they try to sound out Beijing’s true intentions,” Nomura wrote.
Even after changes in targeted Covid approaches, China still has some of the world’s strictest Covid restrictions, and the measures in Beijing and other cities have renewed investors’ worries over the economy and prompted global stocks and oil prices to slip overnight.
Nomura analysts said on Tuesday their in-house index estimated that localities accounting for about 19.9% of China’s total gross domestic product were under some form of lockdown or curbs, up from 15.6% last Monday.
… we have a small favour to ask. Millions are turning to the Guardian for open, independent, quality news every day, and readers in 180 countries around the world now support us financially.
We believe everyone deserves access to information that’s grounded in science and truth, and analysis rooted in authority and integrity. That’s why we made a different choice: to keep our reporting open for all readers, regardless of where they live or what they can afford to pay. This means more people can be better informed, united, and inspired to take meaningful action.
In these perilous times, a truth-seeking global news organisation like the Guardian is essential. We have no shareholders or billionaire owner, meaning our journalism is free from commercial and political influence – this makes us different. When it’s never been more important, our independence allows us to fearlessly investigate, challenge and expose those in power.