China COVID-19 cases mount as social media reports deaths
China’s National Health Commission (NHC) reported 3,867 newly-confirmed COVID-19 cases on Saturday, of which 3,590 occurred in Shanghai. Besides Shanghai, 14 other provinces have also recorded COVID-19 cases, including 195 in Jilin, in the northeast. Social media is flooded with reports of elderly patients dying after contracting COVID-19 at Shanghai hospitals, but official government figures indicate no deaths have occurred in Shanghai since 2020.
It appears that Shanghai is battling China’s worst COVID-19 outbreak since the virus first emerged in Wuhan in late 2019. Its 25 million residents are still mostly under lockdown, though some restrictions have been relaxed this week. According to Xinhua, the Chinese news agency, the NHC reported 19,923 locally transmitted asymptomatic infections of this novel coronavirus on Friday, out of a total of 20,813 locally identified asymptomatic carriers on the mainland.
The Chinese government has remained rigid in combating the highly transmissible Omicron variant and reported a record number of symptomatic cases in Shanghai on Saturday, while other areas across the country tightened control. Zhengzhou airport economic zone, which houses Apple supplier Foxconn, announced a 14-day lockdown on Friday that will be adjusted based on the epidemic situation.
After a surge in COVID-19 infections this month, the city of Xi’an urged residents to avoid unnecessary trips outside of their residential compounds, and encouraged workplaces to encourage employees to live or work at their workplaces. The announcement was not a lockdown, an official in Xi’an said in response to residents’ concerns about food shortages.
In Suzhou, officials say workers should be able to work at home, avoiding unnecessary visits to residential compounds and corporate campuses. Infections have reached over 500 so far. Zhengzhou officials said personnel with valid passes, health codes, and proof of negative COVID-19 tests could leave the economic zone during the period, but vehicles for work could continue to travel.
The widening of curbs to stop the spread of the highly infectious Omicron variant has led to supply chain disruptions that are adding to expectations that the Chinese central bank will soon announce more stimulus measures. An April 7 study by Gavekal Dragonomics found that 87 of China’s 100 largest cities by GDP have some form of quarantine measures.
On social media, Shanghai residents complain about the difficulty getting enough food and about China’s policy that requires anyone testing positive, symptomatic or not, to be centrally quarantined, where conditions are poor. A guide to home quarantining published by China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on its social media page on Wednesday raises hopes of a shift in policy.