China expands lockdowns as COVID-19 cases hit daily record

Nov 23, 2022, 9:40 PM | Updated: Nov 24, 2022, 5:56 pm
Residents buy fresh vegetables from street vendors as restaurants are closed in some districts in B...

Residents buy fresh vegetables from street vendors as restaurants are closed in some districts in Beijing, Thursday, Nov. 24, 2022. China is expanding lockdowns, including in a central city where factory workers clashed this week with police, as its number of COVID-19 cases hit a daily record. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

(AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

BEIJING (AP) — Pandemic lockdowns are expanding across China, including in a city where factory workers clashed this week with police, as the number of COVID-19 cases hits a daily record.

Residents of eight districts of Zhengzhou, home to 6.6 million people, were told to stay home for five days beginning Thursday except to buy food or get medical treatment. Daily mass testing was ordered in what the city government called a “war of annihilation” against the virus.

During clashes Tuesday and Wednesday, Zhengzhou police beat workers protesting over a pay dispute at the biggest factory for Apple’s iPhone, located in an industrial zone near the city. Foxconn, the Taiwan-based owner of the factory, apologized Thursday for what it called “an input error in the computer system” and said it would guarantee that the pay is the same as agreed to and in official recruitment posters.

In the previous 24 hours, the number of new COVID cases rose by 31,444, the National Health Commission said Thursday. That’s the highest daily figure since the coronavirus was first detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019.

The daily caseload has been steadily increasing. This week, authorities reported China’s first COVID-19 deaths in six months, bringing the total to 5,232.

While the number of cases and deaths is relatively low compared to the U.S. and other countries, China’s ruling Communist Party remains committed to a “zero-COVID” strategy that aims to isolate every case and eliminate the virus entirely. Most other governments have ended anti-virus controls and now rely on vaccinations and immunity from past infections to help prevent deaths and serious illness.

Businesses and residential communities from the manufacturing center of Guangzhou in the south to Beijing in the north are in various forms of lockdowns, measures that particularly affects blue-collar migrant workers. In many cases, residents say the restrictions go beyond what the national government allows.

Guangzhou suspended access Monday to its Baiyun district of 3.7 million residents, while residents of some areas of Shijiazhuang, a city of 11 million people southwest of Beijing, were told to stay home while mass testing is conducted.

Beijing opened a hospital in an exhibition center. It suspended access to the Beijing International Studies University after a virus case was found there. Some shopping malls, and office buildings were closed and access was blocked to some apartment compounds.

Suggesting some of those measures might be at least semi-permanent, workers were erecting a 2-meter (7-foot)-high fence around the aging, low-rise brick apartment buildings in Beijing’s Hongmiao Beili community.

A half dozen people in hazmat suits manned the entrance to a lane running through the community, standing behind waist-high steel barriers usually used for crowd control.

Authorities had announced measures to try to reduce disruptions from pandemic controls by shortening quarantines and making other changes. Some Chinese have expressed frustration and confusion about the apparent policy flip-flops on social media.

While China’s borders remain largely closed, the government has been “optimizing and facilitating the exit and entry process for executives and specialized personnel of multinational companies and foreign businesses and their family members in China,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said at a daily news conference Thursday.

Mao said China would continue to improve various COVID protocols “according to the science-based and targeted principles” to help facilitate travel and cooperation and exchanges with other countries.

A key issue is concern about how vulnerable people are to the virus. Few Chinese have caught COVID or even been exposed to the virus, so only a small percentage are thought to have built up effective levels of virus-fighting antibodies.

China has an overall coronavirus vaccination rate of more than 92%, with most people having received at least one dose. But far fewer older Chinese — particularly those over age 80 — have gotten the shots.

The government is trying to contain the latest wave of outbreaks without shutting down factories and the rest of its economy as it did in early 2020. One tactic is using “closed-loop management,” under which workers live in their factories with no outside contacts.

Foxconn, the world’s biggest contract assembler of smartphones and other electronics, is struggling to fill orders for the iPhone 14 after thousands of employees walked away from the factory in Zhengzhou last month following complaints about unsafe working conditions.

The protests on Tuesday and Wednesday were driven by disagreements over payment of workers who were recruited to replace those who left. Workers scuffled with police and some were beaten. Some were arrested.

Foxconn denied what it said were comments online that employees with the virus lived in dormitories at the Zhengzhou factory. It said facilities were disinfected and passed government checks before employees moved in.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

New California oil well ban put on hold for voters to decide

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California’s new law banning new oil and gas wells near homes, schools and other community sites has been put on hold until after voters decide next year whether to throw it out, officials announced Friday. Opponents of Senate Bill 1137 gathered more than 623,000 valid voter signatures to put a referendum […]
22 hours ago
FILE - Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks after being sworn in to begin his second term during an ina...
Associated Press

Florida lawmakers to meet next week on Disney, immigration

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida lawmakers will meet next week to complete a state takeover of Walt Disney World’s self-governing district and debate proposals on immigration and election crimes, as Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis continues to leverage national political fissures ahead of an expected White House run. Republican leaders of the Legislature, in coordination with […]
22 hours ago
FILE - Johnny Thai, 11, receives the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at a pediatric vaccine clinic for chil...
Associated Press

California won’t require COVID vaccine to attend schools

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Children in California won’t have to get the coronavirus vaccine to attend schools, state public health officials confirmed Friday, ending one of the last major restrictions of the pandemic in the nation’s most populous state. Gov. Gavin Newsom first announced the policy in 2021, saying it would eventually apply to all […]
22 hours ago
Part of the 988helpline.org website is photographed Friday, Feb. 3, 2023. A cyberattack caused a ne...
Associated Press

Feds say cyberattack caused suicide helpline’s outage

WASHINGTON (AP) — A cyberattack caused a nearly daylong outage of the nation’s new 988 mental health helpline late last year, federal officials told The Associated Press Friday. Lawmakers are now calling for the federal agency that oversees the program to prevent future attacks. “On December 1, the voice calling functionality of the 988 Lifeline […]
22 hours ago
FILE - Workers at the Nissan plant in Smyrna, Tenn., walk by a Nissan Altima sedan on May 15, 2012....
Associated Press

US board clears path for mini-union vote at big Nissan plant

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Fewer than 100 employees out of the thousands who work at Nissan’s auto assembly plant in Tennessee can hold a vote on whether to form a small union, the federal labor board has decided. The ruling Thursday by the National Labor Relations Board overturns a June 2021 decision by one of […]
22 hours ago
A person gambles as betting odds for NFL football's Super Bowl are displayed on monitors at the Cir...
Associated Press

Super Bowl prop betting increasing in popularity

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Jay Kornegay was behind the counter in 2004 when someone approached with $5,000 to bet on the Super Bowl but had no idea how to decide. The man, not a regular sports bettor, thought for a few moments and decided to put it all on the Carolina Panthers to score exactly […]
22 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Prep the plumbing in your home just in time for the holidays

With the holidays approaching, it's important to know when your home is in need of heating and plumbing updates before more guests start to come around.
(Desert Institute for Spine Care photo)...
DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

Why DISC is world renowned for back and neck pain treatments

Fifty percent of Americans and 90% of people at least 50 years old have some level of degenerative disc disease.
...
Quantum Fiber

Stream 4K and more with powerful, high-speed fiber internet

Picking which streaming services to subscribe to are difficult choices, and there is no room for internet that cannot handle increased demands.
China expands lockdowns as COVID-19 cases hit daily record