Despite its harsh “zero tolerance” policy to dealing with epidemics, China is experiencing a fresh increase in COVID-19 infections across the huge country.
On Monday, the mainland recorded 214 new cases of infection in the preceding 24 hours, with the highest number, 69, in Guangdong, a southern province bordering Hong Kong, which has been registering tens of thousands of cases every day.
Another 54 cases were recorded in Jilin province, located more than 2,000 kilometers (1,200 miles) to the north, and 46 in Shandong province, located in eastern China.
Premier Li Keqiang said China has to “constantly enhance epidemic control” in his annual report to the national legislature on Saturday, but he offered no sign Beijing will loosen its lauded “zero tolerance” policy.
Li advocated for speeding up vaccine research and “strengthening epidemic controls” in towns that receive international passengers and commerce.
When only a few cases have been found, “zero tolerance” necessitates quarantines and lockdowns of whole towns, and occasionally even cities. Officials in China credit the strategy, which includes a vaccination rate of more than 80%, with avoiding a big statewide epidemic, but opponents argue it is putting a strain on the economy and preventing the people from developing natural antibodies.
In Beijing, no new cases were recorded, and the city was mostly back to normal, but masks were still used in public areas indoors.
The religious sector is one area that continues to be impacted by COVID-19 restrictions. Three of Beijing’s most well-known Catholic churches, Buddhist temples, and mosques said on Sunday that they had been ordered shuttered in January and that no timetable for reopening had been set.
Even before the epidemic, Communist officials put a lot of pressure on religious organizations to comply with leader Xi Jinping’s demands that all religious centers be cleansed of outside influence, including the outward look of houses of worship.
The most recent daily case counts are among the highest since the epidemic began in late 2019 in Wuhan, China’s major metropolis.
According to the National Health Commission, this brings China’s total to 111,195, including 4,636 fatalities. Currently, 3,837 patients are undergoing COVID-19 therapy, many of whom are afflicted with the omicron strain.