China imposes new COVID-19 lockdown as cases triple ahead of Communist Party congress

Beijing — Chinese cities imposed new lockdowns and travel restrictions after the number of new weekdays COVID-19 Cases tripled during a weeklong holiday ahead of a major Communist Party meeting in Beijing next week. The latest lockdown began on Monday in the city of Fenyang in northern China’s Shanxi province after a preliminary positive case was tested across the city the previous day, state broadcaster CCTV reported.

In the neighboring region of Inner Mongolia, the capital Hohhot announced that from Tuesday, foreign vehicles and passengers will be banned from entering the city. Hohhot has recorded more than 2,000 cases in about 12 days.

China it is one of the few places in the world still resorting to harsh measures to prevent the disease from spreading. The long-ruling Communist Party is particularly worried as it tries to present a positive image of the nation ahead of a once-in-five-year party congress that starts on Sunday.

Travel fell during the annual National Day holiday that began on Oct. 1, as authorities discouraged people from leaving their cities and provinces. However, the number of new daily cases has risen to around 1,800 from 600 at the start of the break.

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Leaders don’t want a major outbreak to weigh on Congress, but their strict “zero COVID-19” approach has taken a toll financially, particularly on small businesses and temporary workers. Many in China hope that policy on the pandemic will relax after the meeting.

Outbreaks have been reported across the country, with the largest in Inner Mongolia and the eastern Xinjiang region. Both record several hundred new cases a day.

Both Shanghai, where Residents suffered a prolonged lockdown earlier this year, and the national capital Beijing had a small but growing number of cases. Two Shanghai districts announced the closure of cinemas and other entertainment venues on Monday.

Nucleic acid testing in Yantai City
Residents queue in the rain for a COVID-19 test in a community in Yantai, Shandong province, China, October 9, 2022.

CFOTO/Future Publishing/Getty

Queuing for free virus tests several times a week has become the norm for many Chinese, with Beijing and other cities requiring a negative test result within 72 hours to enter parks, office buildings, shops and other public places.

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