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China breaks record for Covid-19 cases amid criticism of restrictions

China reported a record number of daily Covid-19 infections on Thursday, as a nationwide surge in cases adds pressure on the country’s increasingly unpopular zero-tolerance approach to the virus.

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

The surge is being fueled by outbreaks in several cities and comes despite the authorities’ refusal to end tight infection controls, even in the face of a growing – and unprecedented – backlash against their hard-line approach to lockdowns, quarantines and mandatory testing in incessant mass.

Meanwhile, a small number of Covid-related deaths added more pressure to the situation. Beijing on Wednesday recorded its fourth Covid-related death since last weekend, along with 1,648 local infections – its third consecutive day of more than 1,000 local cases.

On Thursday, city officials said they were converting a large exhibition center into a makeshift hospital for quarantine and treatment of Covid patients.

That was just the latest sign that the capital has tightened Covid restrictions.

Earlier this week, schools in several districts moved classes online, while Chaoyang – the city’s epicenter of the outbreak and home to many international companies and embassies – urged residents to stay at home and closed restaurants, gyms and beauty salons.

growing dissent

China, the world’s last major economy still enforcing strict Covid-19 measures, announced limited policy easing earlier this month, in what some observers saw as a sign that the government recognizes its shortcomings.

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

After the announcement, several Chinese cities canceled mass Covid testing, but there is still a dizzying array of restrictions for residents to traverse – especially when outbreaks occur.

Signs that people have had enough are becoming increasingly dramatic, and rare protests have erupted in a country where the authorities have traditionally cracked down on any sign of dissent.

The protests began 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 close facilities following an outbreak.

It comes a week after some residents in the southern industrial hub of Guangzhou rioted against a prolonged lockdown, tearing down barriers and marching through the streets.

Fueling the rage of citizens trapped in lockdowns are recurring problems, such as not being able to access immediate medical care or securing enough food and supplies, or losing work and income.

*CNN’s Michelle Toh and Nectar Gan contributed to this story.

Source: CNN Brasil

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