Omicron: China places millions under lockdown as virus cases doubles

Omicron: China places millions under lockdown virus cases doubles

Shenzhen, China’s southern tech capital, has ordered all citizens to stay at home as the city battles an Omicron flare-up connected to virus-ravaged Hong Kong.

The number of virus infections nationally jumped to about 3,400, raising concerns about the ‘zero-Covid’ approach’s ability to withstand the deadliest outbreak in two years.

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According to a city government announcement, the lockout and suspension of public transportation will run until March 20, with three rounds of mass testing to follow.

The move is a continuation of a previous lockdown in the city’s central business sector.

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On Sunday, Shenzhen recorded 66 new illnesses, a fraction of the 32,430 confirmed in Hong Kong the same day.

As 18 provinces combat clusters of the Omicron and Delta strains, authorities in Shanghai have closed schools and shut down multiple northeastern cities in response to the outbreak.

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When clusters of the virus emerged in China in late 2019, the country implemented a stringent ‘zero-Covid’ policy that included quick lockdowns, travel restrictions, and mass testing.

However, the most recent outbreak, which is being fueled by the highly transmissible Omicron form and an increase in asymptomatic cases, is putting that strategy to the test.

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Shanghai has escaped a citywide stay-at-home order so far, but individual housing compounds have been closed down as the megacity ramps up attempts to limit infections and examine suspected close contacts.

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