SINGAPORE—China’s central government has rolled out preparations to deal with the surge in Covid-19 infections, while warning local authorities against “irresponsible slackening” of pandemic control measures.
China would continue to “rectify the practice of excessive measures such as lockdowns, while opposing irresponsible attitudes and preventing easing,” Mi Feng, spokesperson for China’s National Health Commission, said at a meeting. a briefing on Thursday.
China reported more than 24,000 new locally transmitted Covid-19 cases on Friday, according to data from the National Health Commission, approaching the peak seen during Shanghai’s months-long lockdown earlier this year. Infections have been recorded across the country, with the number increasing in two-thirds of provincial-level regions.
Beijing has reported more than 450 new cases, near Monday’s record and bringing the total number of cases in the country’s capital to nearly 2,500 since the government unveiled a series of measures aimed at easing the impact of strict controls. of the pandemic. Zhengzhou—where Apple Inc.
Supplier Foxconn Technology Group has dealt with an outbreak at the world’s largest iPhone assembly plant – found more than 1,600 new infections, with nearly 4,700 new cases detected in the southwestern metropolis of China, Chongqing.
Guangzhou, the provincial capital of China’s manufacturing powerhouse Guangdong, recorded the highest tally, with more than 9,000 new cases among its 19 million people.
Chinese leaders issued a notice last Friday asking local governments to ease Covid checks, shorten the length of quarantines and reduce unnecessary mass testing.
But recent editorials in the People’s Daily – the Chinese Communist Party’s flagship publication – have continued to call on the Chinese people to stick to its approach of remaining vigilant and nipping epidemics in the bud.
The mixed messaging left local governments trying to figure out how to handle Covid cases without resorting to the strictest measures of China’s zero-tolerance approach to the virus.
At Thursday’s briefing, Beijing also unveiled plans for the hospital system to cope with a surge of new infections by building more facilities to treat severe Covid cases, and to ensure intensive care units account for 10 % of all hospital beds to care for the most vulnerable patients.
China eased the categories of people who must be isolated in response to last Friday’s easing instructions, but it still requires every infection and their close contacts to enter forced quarantine.
On Thursday, Guangzhou announced plans to add beds for nearly a quarter of a million people to deal with surging infections, including 132,015 in hospital isolation wards and 114,392 for those infected but showing no symptoms.
Sudden and sometimes prolonged closures of workplaces, schools and neighborhoods have fueled frustration and protests across China this year.
On Thursday, public anger erupted again over the death of a child which was blamed on excessive pandemic measures. A 4-month-old girl died after suffering from vomiting and diarrhea while quarantined at a hotel in Zhengzhou, according to local reports.
Emergency services had been reluctant to treat her on Monday because the father had tested positive for the virus, the reports said, citing an account of the incident posted on social media by her father. The girl was sent to hospital 11 hours after her initial call, but died despite efforts to resuscitate her, according to reports.
The Zhengzhou health commission said it was investigating the incident, according to the reports.
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