China records record number of Covid cases as dissent grows over tougher restrictions CNN



China reported a record number of daily Covid infections on Thursday, as a nationwide surge put pressure on the country’s increasingly unpopular zero-tolerance approach to the virus.

The National Health Commission (NHC) recorded 31,444 cases locally on Wednesday – surpassing the previous peak of 29,317 recorded on April 13 during Shanghai’s month-long lockdown.

The surge is being fueled by outbreaks in multiple cities despite the authorities’ refusal to end strict infection controls in the face of a growing — and unprecedented — backlash against their tough stance against increasing lockdowns, quarantines and mass testing orders.

Meanwhile, a trickle of Covid-related deaths added more stress to the mix. Beijing on Wednesday recorded its fourth Covid-related death in addition to 1,648 local infections over the past weekend – the third day in a row of more than 1,000 local cases.

On Thursday, city officials said they were converting a major exhibition center into a temporary hospital to isolate and treat Covid patients.

It was the latest sign of a capital hike to contain Covid. Earlier this week, schools in several districts moved classes online while Chaweng – the epicenter of the outbreak and home to many international businesses and embassies – urged residents to stay home and close restaurants, gyms and beauty salons.

China, the world’s last major economy still implementing strict zero-covid measures, announced a limited relaxation of policy earlier this month in what some observers saw as a sign of the government’s admission of shortcomings.

It discouraged unnecessary mass testing and overzealous classification of restricted “high-risk” areas, abolished quarantine requirements for secondary close contacts, and reduced quarantine for close contacts and international arrivals.

After the announcement, several Chinese cities canceled mass Covid testing, but residents have a dizzying set of restrictions to navigate — especially when there’s an outbreak.

Signs that people have had enough have become increasingly dramatic, and rare protests have broken out in a country where authorities have traditionally suppressed any sign of dissent.

Protests erupted this week at the world’s largest iPhone assembly plant in the city of Zhengzhou. Videos on social media showed workers confronting riot police after authorities tried to lock down the facility following an outbreak. It comes a week after some residents of the southern manufacturing hub of Guangzhou broke barriers and took to the streets to rebel against an extended lockdown.

Fueling the anger of citizens stuck in lockdown are recurring issues such as not being able to access immediate medical care or securing adequate food and supplies, or losing work and income.