After the number of new daily COVID-19 cases tripled during a weeklong holiday, Chinese cities imposed new lockdowns and travel restrictions ahead of a major Communist Party meeting in Beijing next week. The latest lockdown began on Monday in Fenyang, Shanxi Province, after a preliminary positive case was discovered in citywide testing the day before, according to state broadcaster CCTV.
The capital of the nearby Inner Mongolia region, Hohhot, announced on Tuesday that outside vehicles and passengers would be prohibited from entering the city.Over the course of about 12 days, Hohhot recorded over 2,000 cases.China is one of the few countries still using harsh measures to keep the disease from spreading.
The long-ruling Communist Party is especially concerned as it attempts to project a positive image of the country in the run-up to a once-every-five-years party congress, which begins on Sunday.Authorities discouraged people from leaving their cities and provinces during the annual National Day holiday, which began on October 1.However, the number of new daily cases has increased to around 1,800 from 600 at the start of the break.
Leaders do not want a major outbreak to overshadow Congress, but their strict “zero-COVID” policy has cost the economy dearly, particularly small businesses and temporary workers.Many Chinese people believe that the pandemic policy will be relaxed following the meeting.
Outbreaks have been reported throughout the country, with the greatest concentrations in Inner Mongolia and the far west Xinjiang region. Both have been logging hundreds of new cases every day. A small but growing number of cases have been reported in both Shanghai, where residents were subjected to prolonged lockdowns earlier this year, and the national capital Beijing.Last week, two Shanghai districts announced the closure of cinemas and other entertainment venues.
For many Chinese, lining up for a free virus test several times a week has become the norm, with Beijing and other cities requiring a negative test result within 72 hours to enter parks, office buildings, shops, and other public places.