(Bloomberg) -- Covid-19 cases in China’s capital of Beijing remain elevated, after almost doubling over the weekend, while infections nationwide continue their record upward march, as opposition to the government’s hardcore containment regime spreads onto the streets.
The relentless transmission of Covid amid colder weather, as protests swell against local officials’ hard-line efforts to contain it, reflects the dilemma China is in as the country faces an inflection point in the zero-tolerance approach that’s endured for nearly three years.
Nationally new infections rose to 38,808 on Sunday, continuing their record climb since the start of the month. Beijing reported 3,860 cases for Sunday, below the 4,245 infections from the day before and up dramatically from just over 400 two weeks ago, according to a Bloomberg News tally.
The ongoing outbreak in the capital comes as officials enact a web of restrictions to try and prevent Beijingers from moving around. Anxiety in the city -- China’s political heart -- is running high amid concern a full lockdown may be imposed, especially given the current unrest.
China Covid Unrest Boils Over as Citizens Defy Lockdown Efforts
Residents in Beijing were filmed Friday defying officials who demanded they enter compulsory isolation, the rule for everyone with Covid in China. Protests against the Covid Zero approach snowballed across the country over the weekend and popped up even in Beijing last night. Demonstrators earlier gathered everywhere from the streets of Shanghai to a college campus in Nanjing to the remote northwest Xinjiang region.
Xinjiang became the trigger for the discontent after virus restrictions were blamed for hampering rescue efforts in a deadly fire in the regional capital Urumqi on Thursday.
Record Covid transmission across China is making it near impossible for authorities to contain the virus using the more targeted restrictions laid out in a 20-point playbook handed down by Beijing just over a fortnight ago. Instead, they’re locking down quietly and more covertly, and continuing to mass test people to track cases. The protests are shining a light on those conflicting policies.
Read more: These Are China’s 20 New Guidelines for Easing Covid Zero
In a front-page commentary in the People’s Daily newspaper on Monday, the Communist Party mouthpiece called for more effective implementation of the latest Covid policies to rapidly curb the spread of the virus.
The fastest-growing outbreaks in China right now are Beijing, Chongqing and Jilin province.
Across China, from the southern technology hub of Shenzhen to Beijing in the north, local authorities have responded with a mesh of restrictions to rein in cases.
Health authorities in Shenzhen on Sunday tightened restrictions on public spaces as infections continue to climb. Restaurants were ordered to limit customers to no more than 50% of the venue’s capacity, while places including cinemas, libraries and art galleries are also subject to the limit.
In Shanghai, which reported 144 new local Covid cases for Sunday, people will need a negative PCR test within the past 48 hours before entering restaurants, bars, malls, supermarkets, beauty salons and other places of business from Nov. 29.
Panic Buying in Beijing as Covid Surge Spurs Creeping Controls
A five-day lockdown in Zhengzhou, home to Apple Inc.’s largest iPhone manufacturing site, started on Friday. The order came after hundreds of workers at the plant known as ‘iPhone City’ clashed with security personnel as tensions boiled over following almost a month under tough restrictions.
China’s official figures report symptomatic and asymptomatic Covid patients separately, which can lead to inflated numbers when people are re-classified after developing symptoms. Bloomberg’s tally counts all local cases, regardless of symptoms, and removes the double-counting issue.
Explore Bloomberg’s Exclusive China Covid Dashboard on Terminal
(Adds the national infection numbers in the third paragraph)
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