AP

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

Israeli Embassy...

Associated Press

US airman dies after setting himself ablaze outside Israeli Embassy in Israel-Hamas war protest

An active-duty member of the U.S. Air Force has died after he set himself ablaze outside the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C.

2 days ago

Biden and Trump to visit Mexico border Thursday immigration...

Associated Press

Biden and Trump both plan trips to the Mexico border Thursday, dueling for advantage on immigration

President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump will make dueling trips to the U.S-Mexico border on Thursday.

2 days ago

Arizona and New York attorneys feud over extraditing suspect...

Associated Press

Why Alvin Bragg and Rachel Mitchell are fighting over extraditing suspect in New York hotel killing

Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell says she isn't into extraditing a suspect due to her lack of faith in Manhattan’s top prosecutor.

6 days ago

A Gila monster is displayed at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, Dec. 14, 2018. A 34-year-old Color...

Associated Press

Colorado man dies after being bitten by pet Gila monster

A Colorado man has died after being bitten by his pet Gila monster in what would be a rare death by one of the desert lizards if the creature's venom turns out to have been the cause.

7 days ago

Police clear the area following a shooting at the Kansas City Chiefs NFL football Super Bowl celebr...

Associated Press

1 dead, many wounded after shooting at Kansas City Chiefs’ Super Bowl victory parade

One person died after 22 people were hit by gunfire in a shooting at the end of the Kansas Chiefs' Super Bowl victory celebration Wednesday.

14 days ago

This image from House Television shows House Speaker Mike Johnson of La., banging the gavel after h...

Associated Press

GOP-led House impeaches Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas — by one vote — over border management

Having failed to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas the first time, House Republicans are determined to try again Tuesday.

15 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s 1 way to ensure your family is drinking safe water

Water is maybe one of the most important resources in our lives, and especially if you have kids, you want them to have access to safe water.

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Valley residents should be mindful of plumbing ahead of holidays

With Halloween in the rear-view and more holidays coming up, Day & Night recommends that Valley residents prepare accordingly.

China expands lockdowns as COVID-19 cases hit daily record