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China battles worst COVID-19 surge since early days in Wuhan

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China is battling some of its worst COVID-19 outbreaks since the start of the crisis, forcing Beijing to shutter a major manufacturing hub in the south while residents of a northern province have been told not to leave or travel.

The lockdown in Jilin Province, which borders Russia and North Korea, is one of the most severe since Wuhan was closed off from the rest of the country in late 2019. Major automakers were forced to shutter operations in the area, according to CNBC.

The outlet said Shanghai, the major coastal city, reverted school classes to online status as neighborhoods face mass testing and lockdowns until they test negative.

Meanwhile, Foxconn suspended operations in the southern city of Shenzhen, a major manufacturing hub that borders hard-hit Hong Kong, according to multiple reports.

Mainland China reported 1,437 new cases on Sunday, meaning there are over 8,500 active infections, the most since March 2020.

Those are relatively low numbers — the U.S. is practically celebrating 34,000 cases per day, its lowest level since July — but Bejing has maintained a zero-COVID strategy that seeks to stamp out all infections through mass testing and draconian lockdowns.

The surge in Hong Kong, which has special administrative status, appears to have plateaued, but its death rate remains high, taxing hospitals and morgues and representing a black eye for the central communist government.

Experts say the zero-COVID approach may not be sustainable, but the communist government is unlikely to admit defeat and retreat, at least not before it convenes its 20th Party Congress in October to consider a third term for President Xi Jinping.

Vice Premier Sun Chunlan suggested over the weekend that the strategy would continue for now.

Scientists are worried that China’s lack of natural immunity to the virus or insufficient protection from domestic vaccines will leave the world’s most populous nation exposed to outbreaks moving forward.

They also worry the situation provides a large breeding ground for new variants that could set back the global fight even as the U.S. and western nations try to manage COVID-19 as another infectious disease in the background of society.

Hong Kong has reported nearly 3,780 COVID-19 deaths and almost 700,000 cases since late January, according to the New York Times, putting pressure on city Executive Carrie Lam to wrangle the crisis.

Ms. Lam said Monday the mainland sent 75 doctors and nurses to deal with the surge and 300 will follow.

At the same press conference, she said COVID-19 pills from Merck had arrived and a similar drug from Pfizer known as Paxlovid would arrive shortly, according to Caixin Global, a Chinese outlet.

Hong Kong has reported nearly 3,780 COVID-19 deaths and almost 700,000 cases since late January, according to the New York Times, putting pressure on city Executive Carrie Lam to wrangle the crisis. Ms. Lam said Monday the mainland sent 75 doctors and nurses to deal with the surge and 300 will follow.

At the same press conference, she said COVID-19 pills from Merck had arrived and a similar drug from Pfizer known as Paxlovid would arrive shortly, according to Caixin Global, a Chinese outlet.


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