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CORONAVIRUS

Areas of China return to strict lockdown rules as new case numbers return to 2020 peak

Two Chinese cities with a combined population of 26 million have returned to covid-19 restrictions after experiencing the highest new daily case numbers since 2020.

Update:
Two Chinese cities with a combined population of 26 million have returned to covid-19 restrictions after experiencing the highest new daily case numbers since 2020.
Kevin FrayerGetty Images

Lockdowns are back in China. The cities of Changchun in northeast China and Shenzhen to the south have both reported a significant increase in covid-19 cases and returned to lockdown measures, according to local authorities.

The cities, with a combined population of 26 million people, will be required by law to stay at home, with only one person per household allowed to leave once every two days to get essentials supplies and certain other reasons. The entire population will also go through three rounds of coronavirus testing in an attempt to tackle the curve.

"With the exception of supermarkets, pharmacies and health centres, all stores will close," authorities say, and the lockdown will continue until further notice.

The new rules represent a return to the tough economic restrictions that were in place throughout 2020 and much of 2021. The most recent of its kind in China took place in the city of Xi'an, with a population of 13 million inhabitants, which was placed in quarantine at the end of last year.

Infection rate reaches levels not seen since early 2020

Reports from China also suggest that the nation is experiencing more covid-19 cases than at any point since the first quarter of 2020, when the coronavirus first became a global concern. It is thought that the country is now in the midst of a wave of cases from the Omicron variant, which sparked a similar increase in the United States.

On Sunday, 13 March health officials confirmed that 2,125 cases had been reported across 58 cities spanning 19 of the country’s 31 mainland provinces, suggesting that the actual national total is considerably higher. It was the fourth consecutive day that the National Health Commission (NHC) had reported more than 1,000 new daily cases.

The NHC recorded 3,122 new local cases on Saturday alone, the first time since the initial outbreak in Wuhan that daily case numbers had exceeded 3,000. China has been following a strict zero-covid policy throughout the pandemic and has looked to stamp out any regionalised spikes in infection by imposing tough restrictions.

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