Chinese President Xi Jinping vowed to reduce the impact of COVID-control measures on the economy and people’s lives in a meeting late last week, a first acknowledgment from the Chinese leadership of the costs of the government’s stringent policies to rein in outbreaks.
Early last week, a surge in COVID-19 cases led Chinese manufacturing hubs Shenzhen and Changchun to impose restrictions, including introducing stay-at-home orders and halting production at many electronics and auto factories, another blow to the latest threat to the world’s battered supply chain.
On March 16, more than 37 million people were in lockdown, but some facilities in those areas have since resumed production.
China is facing the biggest wave of COVID-19 infections since Wuhan became the original center of the pandemic in early 2020. Several local governments have resorted to the same playbook used over the past two years to stamp out new outbreaks by ordering large-scale shutdowns and mass testing.
Xi still urged officials to curb the spread of infection as soon as possible and said the central government would hold local officials accountable if they fail to respond to outbreaks promptly, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.
However, Xi said China must “strive to achieve the biggest prevention and control effect with the smallest cost, and minimize the impact of the COVID situation on economic and social development,” Xinhua reported.
On Thursday, China reported 2,432 cases, including both symptomatic and asymptomatic infections.
Hong Kong also has faced a record surge in COVID-19 cases and the world’s highest death rate, prompting authorities there to impose strict restrictions.
Sources: Wall Street Journal, Observer.com