China’s Guangzhou Locks Millions in ‘Zero-COVID’ Fight

China's Guangzhou Locks Millions in 'Zero-COVID' Fight

A man adjusts his mask on the street in Beijing, Sunday, Nov. 20, 2022. China on Sunday reported its first new death from COVID-19 in nearly six months as strict new measures are taken in Beijing and across the country to guard against a new outbreak. Credit: AP Photo/Ng Han Guan

The southern Chinese metropolis of Guangzhou locked down its largest district on Monday as it tries to curb a major COVID-19 outbreak, suspending public transport and requiring residents to present a negative test if they want to leave their homes.

The outbreak is testing China’s attempt to take a more targeted approach to its zero-COVID strategy as it faces multiple outbreaks fueled by the rapid spread of omicron strains. China is the only major country in the world still trying to contain virus transmission through strict lockdown measures and mass testing.

Baiyun District, home to 3.7 million people in Guangzhou, also suspended in-person classes at schools and closed universities. The measures are to last until Friday, the city announced.

Meanwhile in Beijing, the capital reported two other deaths from COVID-19. On Sunday, the city reported China’s first COVID-19 death in more than six months.

While critics have questioned China’s COVID-19 numbers, and particularly its death toll, its aggressive approach to trying to contain infections has prevented large-scale outbreaks and kept new daily cases lower than in many other countries.

Earlier this month, China announced that it was relaxing some of its “zero-COVID” policies, such as suspending flights from airlines that had brought a certain number of passengers who tested positive. It also reduced the time required in central quarantine for international arrivals from seven to five days.

China's Guangzhou Locks Millions in 'Zero-COVID' Fight

A man lowers his mask to be swabbed for a COVID-19 test on the street in Beijing, Sunday, Nov. 20, 2022. China on Sunday reported its first new death from COVID-19 in nearly six months as strict new measures are taken in Beijing and across the country to guard against a new outbreak. Credit: AP Photo/Ng Han Guan

The relaxation of some measures was an attempt to make the policy “more scientific and accurate,” said Lei Haichao, deputy director of the State Health Commission.

Larger cities are still maintaining some tried-and-tested measures, albeit in a more piecemeal fashion than shutting down an entire city, which they had previously done.

China's Guangzhou Locks Millions in 'Zero-COVID' Fight

Residents line up for a COVID-19 test on the streets of Beijing, Sunday, Nov. 20, 2022. China on Sunday reported its first new death from COVID-19 in nearly six months as strict new measures are taken in Beijing and across the country to guard against a new outbreak. Credit: AP Photo/Ng Han Guan

Shijiazhuang, a city in northern Hebei province, is testing all residents in six districts. In Beijing’s Haidian district, home to the city’s technology hub and major universities, authorities announced Sunday evening that in-person classes at elementary and high schools were being canceled.

Guangdong province, home to Guangzhou, reported the highest number of new cases on Monday with 9,085 out of a total of 27,095 cases nationwide.

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