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The epidemic across China has rebounded rapidly, and Beijing’s Chaoyang district has called on people to stay at home for the weekend

Beijing residents brave biting cold winds to wait in long lines outside a testing station on November 17, 2022.
Beijing residents brave biting cold winds to wait in long lines outside a testing station on November 17, 2022.

While the Chinese government issued the “20 new rules” aimed at relaxing epidemic prevention measures, emphasizing “optimization” and “precision” epidemic prevention, the number of infected cases across the country increased rapidly, and the epidemic area continued to expand. On Friday (November 18), the government of Chaoyang District, the largest administrative district in Beijing, publicly called on people in the district to “stay” at home for the weekend and not to leave the district unless necessary.

The 20 new epidemic prevention regulations introduced by the joint prevention and control mechanism of the State Council of China emphasize “optimization” and “precision” epidemic prevention in order to alleviate the impact and impact of epidemic prevention and control measures on people’s lives and production activities. In addition to canceling the nucleic acid testing of all employees in the region, the new regulations also cut the isolation time of close contacts and inbound passengers by two days, becoming “5-day centralized isolation + 3-day home isolation”, and no longer determine whether close contacts have had close contact with infected people, and at the same time adjust the control measures for spillover personnel in high-risk areas to “7-day home isolation”. The new regulations have revised the previous division of risk areas into three categories: “high, medium and low” into two categories, “high and low”, and the delineation of high-risk areas has also been greatly reduced, divided into units and buildings.

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However, the new rules still reiterate the need to unswervingly implement the general policy of “dynamic zero”, emphasizing that this policy can save lives. Because of this, although the authorities deliberately relaxed the strict prevention and control measures, the rapid rebound of epidemic areas across the country has forced many cities to continue to implement local lockdown measures.

Beijing’s Chaoyang district, home to embassies and a large number of office buildings, has a large number of office buildings, but after 466 new local infections were reported in Beijing on Thursday, the Chaoyang district government urged people to stay at home for the weekend and not leave the district unless necessary.

“Beijing is going through a huge test,” Xu Hejian, a spokesman for the Beijing municipal government, said at a news conference on Friday.

City officials have warned that community transmission in Beijing will be more severe and that prevention and control have reached a “critical juncture.”

From 0:00 to 24:00 on Thursday, there were 35 new locally confirmed cases and 112 asymptomatic infections in Beijing’s Chaoyang District, of which 20 were social screeners and 127 were isolation and observation workers.

Yang Beibei, deputy mayor of Chaoyang District, called on Chaoyang residents not to leave the area unless necessary.

“The occasional ‘homestay’ is to cut off the chain of transmission in society faster, interrupt the spread of the virus as soon as possible, curb the spread of the epidemic, and protect the life safety and health of all of us,” Yang Beibei said.

According to China’s National Health Commission, from 0:00 to 24:00 on Thursday, there were 25,129 new local infections in Chinese mainland, 1,997 more than the previous day’s 23,132 cases, and close to the record of more than 29,000 new cases in a single day set in China during the Shanghai lockdown in April this year.

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Goldman Sachs, a Wall Street investment bank that has recently lowered its fourth-quarter growth forecast to 3.0 percent from 3.6 percent, said in an analyst announcement that it expects China’s economic growth to continue to be disrupted and impacted until restrictions begin to be eased in April.

“From our bottom line, Covid lockdown measures, such as targeted lockdowns and screenings, will continue in place in areas where COVID rebounds are occurring, causing ongoing disruptions to services and consumption in the coming months,” Goldman Sachs analysts wrote.

Chinese President Xi Jinping said Friday that China would consider hosting the third Belt and Road Forum next year. Reuters believes that this is another example of China’s epidemic prevention control to be relaxed next year. The previous two Belt and Road Forums were held in 2017 and 2019 respectively and attracted leaders and officials from dozens of countries.

China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism on Friday issued a revised version of the “Guidelines for the Prevention and Control of the Novel Coronavirus Pneumonia Epidemic for Travel Agencies”, requiring travel agencies and entertainment venues around the world to adhere to the “organic combination” of normalized and precise prevention and control and local emergency response, and in principle, not to implement “one-size-fits-all” for the entire industry, and not to “increase the code layer by layer”, “to maximize the protection of people’s life safety and health, and minimize the impact of the epidemic on tourism development”.

Reuters believes that the latest epidemic prevention guidelines from China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism may bring new hope to the recovery of the entertainment service industry, such as cabarets and Internet cafes, which have been hit hard by epidemic prevention and control measures.

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Guangzhou, a major city in southern China, was the hardest hit by the latest wave of the epidemic, and although several administrative districts are under lockdown, the number of new local infections on Thursday is still close to 9,000. The Guangzhou government announced Thursday that it would build a square cabin hospital and isolation site that can accommodate nearly 250,000 beds.

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