TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — Southern China’s metropolis Guangzhou locked down its largest district on Monday as it attempts to quell a major COVID-19 outbreak, suspending public transportation and requiring residents to show a negative test if they want to leave their homes.
The outbreak is testing China’s attempt to bring a more targeted approach to its zero COVID policies while dealing with multiple outbreaks caused by fast-spreading omicron variants. China is the only major country in the world still trying to curb virus transmissions through strict lockdown measures and mass testing.
Baiyun District, home to Guangzhou’s 3.7 million people, also suspended in-person classes for schools and closed universities. The measures are supposed to last until Friday, the city announced.
Meanwhile, in Beijing, the capital has reported two more deaths related to COVID-19. On Sunday, the city reported China’s first COVID-19-related death in more than six months.
While critics have questioned China’s COVID-19 figures, and in particular its death toll, its intensive approach to trying to contain infections has prevented massive outbreaks and kept new daily cases below that of many other countries.
Earlier this month, China announced it was easing some of its “zero-COVID” policies, such as suspending flights from airlines that had brought in a number of passengers who tested positive. It also reduced the time required in centralized quarantine for international arrivals from seven to five days.
The relaxation of some measures was an attempt to make policies more “scientific and precise”, said Lei Haichao, deputy director of the National Health Commission.
Major cities are still retaining some of the tested measures, albeit in a more fragmented way than shutting down an entire city, which they had done before.
Shijiazhuang, a city in northern Hebei province, is testing all residents of six districts. In Beijing’s Haidian district, home to the city’s technology hub and top universities, authorities announced late Sunday that in-person classes were being canceled at elementary and secondary schools.
Guangdong Province, home to Guangzhou, reported the highest number of new cases on Monday with 9,085 out of a total of 27,095 cases nationwide.
Associated Press press assistant Caroline Chen in Guangzhou, China, contributed to this report.
This story corrects that recent deaths are first in China, not Beijing, and easing measures were announced earlier this month.