Beware China: COVID-19’s Witch Hunt on Rampage

As authorities combat several COVID-19 flare-ups around the nation, China’s Guangzhou has closed down its largest district and Beijing’s schools have switched to online instruction.

A five-day lockdown was ordered for Guangzhou, a southern city of over 19 million people, on Monday. Dining-in services were also halted, while nightclubs and theatres in the central business area were closed.

Students in various districts of Beijing’s schools started studying online after authorities asked people in some of the city’s hardest-hit neighborhoods to stay at home after 962 new illnesses were recorded by the authorities there.

After revealing the first fatality in not more than six months, health officials in the capital also announced two deaths associated with COVID-19. Given the widespread doubt among medical professionals outside of China over the official COVID death toll of less than 5,300, Beijing has imposed rigorous regulations that have significantly reduced cases and fatalities compared to other countries.

China is experiencing an increase in COVID cases, with outbreaks occurring from Zhengzhou in the centre of Henan province to Chongqing in the southwest.

Chinese health authorities recorded 26,824 local cases on Sunday, which is quite similar to the country’s high in April.

While the rest of the world is dealing with COVID-19, China has remained steadfast in its “zero COVID” policy, which depends on lockdowns, mass testing, and border restrictions to eradicate the virus wherever it manifests.

Beijing has repeatedly ruled out a fundamental shift away from “zero COVID” even as public annoyance with the policy grows. This is true despite relaxing some COVID curbs, such as cutting quarantine for international arrivals from seven to five days, and calling for more targeted measures.

Asian stock markets and energy prices fell on Monday, as investors prepared for further economic disruption owing to the increasing instances.

On Monday, the People’s Daily newspaper, the mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party, published the latest in a series of articles stressing the need to catch cases early while avoiding a “one-size-fits-all” response.