Covid-19: Beijing shuts schools as cases surge

Covid-19: Beijing shuts schools as cases surge

 

Students in numerous Beijing districts buckled down for online classes on Monday, as officials urged people in some of the city’s hardest-hit areas to stay at home, as COVID cases in China’s capital and nationwide rose.

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China is dealing with several COVID-19 outbreaks, from Zhengzhou in central Henan province to Chongqing in the southwest, and reported 26,824 new local cases on Sunday, approaching April’s peaks.

It also reported two deaths in Beijing, up from one on Saturday, when China suffered its first fatality since late May.

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Guangzhou, a southern city of nearly 19 million people that is battling the largest of China’s recent outbreaks, ordered a five-day lockdown for its Baiyun district, its most populous. It also suspended dine-in services and shut night clubs and theatres in Tianhe, home to the city’s main business district.

Meanwhile, Asian share markets and oil prices slipped on Monday as investors fretted about the economic fallout from the intensifying COVID situation in China, with the risk aversion benefiting bonds and the dollar.

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Students in numerous Beijing districts buckled down for online courses on Monday, as officials urged people in some of the city’s hardest-hit areas to stay at home, as COVID cases in China’s capital and nationwide rose.

China is dealing with several COVID-19 outbreaks, from Zhengzhou in central Henan province to Chongqing in the southwest, and reported 26,824 new local cases on Sunday, approaching April’s peaks. It also reported two deaths in Beijing, up from one on Saturday, when China suffered its first fatality since late May.

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But late on Sunday, Shijiazhuang announced it would conduct mass testing in six of its eight districts over the next five days after new daily local cases hit 641. It also encouraged residents to shop online and ordered some schools to suspend in-person teaching.

“They lasted a week,” said one popular comment on Weibo on Shijiazhuang’s curbs, which was among the most viewed topics on the social media platform.

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The capital Beijing reported 962 new infections, up from 621 a day earlier. Its sprawling Chaoyang district, home to 3.5 million people, urged residents to stay home, with school going online. Some schools in Haidian, Dongcheng and Xicheng also halted in-person teaching.

China’s recent efforts to make its COVID-19 curbs more targeted have sparked investor hopes of a more significant easing even as China faces its first winter battling the highly transmissible Omicron variant.

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Many analysts expect such a shift to begin only in March or April, however, with the government arguing that President Xi Jinping’s signature zero-COVID policy saves lives.

Experts warn that full reopening requires a massive vaccination booster effort and a change in messaging in a country where the disease remains widely feared.

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Oxford Economics wrote in a Monday note that it only expects an exit from zero-COVID in the second half of 2023.

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