Peking University’s main campus is on lockdown for a single case as angry Guangzhou residents defy forced quarantines.
Peking University’s main campus in Beijing has been locked down, amid a worsening COVID-19 outbreak in cities across China, which has forced millions into quarantine and heightened frustrations as that the government is pursuing its zero COVID strategy.
University students and staff were told on Wednesday they would not be allowed to leave unless absolutely necessary and classes were moved online to a campus until Friday, according to a notice of the University. This decision follows the discovery of a single case of COVID-19.
Beijing has reported more than 350 new virus cases in the past 24-hour period, a small fraction of its 21 million population but enough to trigger localized lockdowns and quarantines. Nationwide, there have been more than 20,000 cases, up from around 8,000 a week ago and the most since April.
Authorities have moved away from citywide shutdowns and eased some restrictions — including on testing and travel — as they try to minimize the effect of their zero-COVID policy on people’s lives and the economy.
The latest round of lockdown has already turned frustration into anger with protests erupting in a district of the southern city of Guangzhou on Monday night.
Videos posted online showed crowds in the city’s Haizhu district, which is home to many people working in the textile industry lowering COVID-19 barriers and flooding the streets. Some could be seen protesting white workers dressed in hazmat suits who typically oversee mass quarantines.
— 谢万军 Wanjun Xie (@wanjunxie) November 16, 2022
[Translation: In Haizhu, Guangdong, after a large-scale riot, the authorities announced the lifting of the lockdown. Resistance is the only way to survive. Kneeling is the way to death!]
Of China’s latest outbreaks, Guangzhou’s is the biggest, with new daily cases topping 5,000 for the first time and growing concern over widening localized lockdowns.
Twitter is blocked in China, and several hashtags related to the topic of “riots” in the region were removed from Weibo, similar to Twitter in China, on Tuesday morning.
Neither the Guangzhou city government nor the Guangdong provincial police responded to requests for comment from Reuters news agency.
“It was quite tense last night. Everyone made sure their doors were locked,” said a Guangzhou resident who uses the name Chet and lives about a kilometer (0.6 mile) from the where the demonstration took place.
He told Reuters that local chat groups and social media feeds were inundated with videos and photos from the episode.
“When it happened so close to me, I found it really upsetting. I couldn’t sleep last night after watching this footage,” said Chet, whose residential compound has been closed for around 20 days. .
Major cities including Chongqing and Zhengzhou have also been caught up in the outbreak, nearly three years after the pandemic began in the central city of Wuhan.
Last week, China announced that the tests would be more targeted, rather than the current mass PCR tests, and indicated that some strict COVID policies would be relaxed, raising hopes of an end to zero-COVID.
President Xi Jinping has argued that this approach saves lives, especially for the elderly who have not yet been vaccinated.
Officials in Guangzhou, home to nearly 19 million people, said they were planning more makeshift hospitals on top of the six that have already been built for those with the virus but not showing symptoms.
In Shanghai, which reported a relatively low number of cases, apartment buildings were still sealed off and the Shanghai Disney Resort has been closed since Oct. 31 after a visitor tested positive.
In the northwest region of Xinjiang, the city of Ghulja is finally returning to normal life and work, as local authorities lifted a harsh three-month lockdown plagued by food shortages.