China’s Guangzhou locks up millions in ‘zero-COVID’ fight

Taipei, Taiwan — The southern Chinese metropolis of Guangzhou on Monday locked down its largest district in a bid to contain a major COVID-19 outbreak, shut down public transport and require residents to present a negative test if they want to leave their homes.

The outbreak tests China’s attempt to take a more focused approach to its zero-COVID policy while simultaneously facing multiple outbreaks caused by fast-spreading Omicron variants. China is the only major country in the world still trying to curb virus transmission through strict lockdown measures and mass testing.

Baiyun District, home to 3.7 million people in Guangzhou, also suspended face-to-face classes for schools and locked down universities. The measures should last until Friday, the city said.

“The epidemic situation is serious and complex, and difficult to control,” district deputy head Chen Yongjun said at a press conference in Guangzhou, according to a provincial state-run media report.

Meanwhile, the Beijing capital reported two more COVID-19-related deaths. On Sunday, the city reported China’s first COVID-19 death in nearly six months.

Beijing officials announced at a news conference that starting Tuesday, anyone arriving from out of the city must stay at home for three days and test negative for three days in a row before being let out, state broadcaster CCTV said in an online report.

While critics have questioned China’s COVID-19 numbers, and its death toll in particular, its intensive approach to containing infections has prevented massive outbreaks and kept daily new cases lower than many other countries.

Earlier this month, China announced it was relaxing some of its “zero-COVID” policies, such as: B. the suspension of flights by airlines that had brought a certain number of passengers who tested positive. It also reduced the time required in the centralized quarantine for international arrivals from seven to five days.

The easing of some measures is an attempt to make the policy “more scientific and precise,” said Lei Haichao, deputy director of the National Health Commission.

Larger cities are still sticking to some of the tried and tested measures, albeit more fragmented than shutting down an entire city as they had previously.

Shijiazhuang, a city in northern Hebei Province, is testing all residents in six districts. In Beijing’s Haidian District, home to the city’s technology hub and top universities, authorities announced Sunday night that face-to-face classes at primary and secondary schools would be canceled.

Guangdong Province, home to Guangzhou, reported the highest number of new cases on Monday, with 9,085 cases out of a total of 27,095 across the country.


Caroline Chen, Associated Press news assistant in Guangzhou, China, contributed to this report.


This story corrects that the latest deaths are the first in China in nearly six months, not the first in Beijing in over six months, and that relaxed lockdown measures were announced earlier this month.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *