New COVID-19 cases surged in Guangzhou and other Chinese cities, official data showed yesterday, with the global manufacturing hub becoming China’s latest COVID-19 epicenter and testing the city’s ability to avoid a Shanghai-style lockdown.
Nationwide, new locally transmitted infections rose to 7,475 on Monday, China’s health authority said, up from 5,496 the day before and the highest since May 1. Guangzhou accounted for nearly one-third of the new infections.
The increase was modest by global standards, but significant for China, where outbreaks are to be quickly tackled when they surface under its “zero COVID” policy. Economically vital cities, including Beijing, are demanding more polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests for residents and locking down neighborhoods and even districts in some cases.
The sharp rebound will test China’s ability to keep its virus measures surgical and targeted, and could dampen investors’ hopes that its economy could ease curbs and restrictions soon.
“We are seeing a game between rising voices for loosening controls and rapid spreading of COVID cases,” said Nie Wen, a Shanghai-based economist at Hwabao Trust.
Considering how the nationwide COVID-19 curbs are crushing domestic consumption, Nie said he had downgraded his fourth-quarter economic growth forecast to about 3.5 percent from 4 to 4.5 percent. The economy grew 3.9 percent in July-September.
The rising caseload dragged on China’s stock markets yesterday, but shares have not yet surrendered last week’s big gains.
Investors see China’s beaten-down markets as an attractive prospect as a global slowdown looms, and have focused on small clues of gradual change — such as more targeted lockdowns and progress on vaccination rates.
“No matter how harsh the letter of the law is ... there is a little bit more loosening,” said Damien Boey, chief macro strategist at Australian investment bank Barrenjoey.
Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong province, reported 2,377 new local cases for yesterday, up from 1,971 the previous day. It was a dramatic jump from double-digit increases two weeks ago.
Surging case numbers in the sprawling city, dubbed the “factory floor of the world,” means Guangzhou has surpassed the Inner Mongolia city of Hohhot to become China’s COVID-19 epicenter, in its most serious outbreak ever.
Many of Guangzhou’s districts, including Haizhu, have imposed varying levels of curbs and lockdowns, but it has not imposed a blanket lockdown like the one in Shanghai earlier this year.
Shanghai, currently not facing a virus resurgence, went into a lockdown in April and May after reporting several thousand new infections daily in the last week of March.
“We have been working from home for the past couple of days,” said Aaron Xu, who runs a company in Guangzhou. “Only a few compounds have been locked up so far. Mostly we are seeing disruptions in the form of public transit services being suspended and compound security barring couriers and food delivery. And we have to do PCR tests every day.”
JUMPING BAIL: The democracy advocate said made the decision after ‘considering the situation in Hong Kong, my personal safety, my physical and mental health’ Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Agnes Chow (周庭), who was jailed over her role in massive 2019 protests, on Sunday said she had moved to Canada and would not return to meet her bail conditions. Chow was one of the best-known young faces of the 2012, 2014 and 2019 protest movements against Beijing’s increasingly authoritarian rule in Hong Kong. She spent about seven months behind bars for her role in a protest outside Hong Kong police headquarters in 2019, when huge crowds rallied week after week in the most serious challenge to China’s rule since Hong Kong’s 1997 handover. On Sunday
TAKING STOCK: It was not yet clear how damaging the espionage, dating to 1981, has been, as authorities are still assessing the situation, the State Department said A former US ambassador to Bolivia has been arrested and charged with spying for Cuba over a 40-year span, the US Department of Justice announced on Monday, detailing a shock betrayal by a suspect who called the US “the enemy.” US Attorney General Merrick Garland laid out the allegations against Victor Manuel Rocha, a onetime member of the White House’s National Security Council now accused of using his positions within the government to support Cuba’s “clandestine intelligence-gathering mission” against the US. The charges against Rocha, 73, expose “one of the highest-reaching and longest-lasting infiltrations of the United States government by a foreign
DARK WARNINGS: If Trump survives his court trials, neither the Supreme Court nor the US Constitution could stop him from becoming president for life, a ‘Post’ column said Former US president Donald Trump on Tuesday declined to rule out abusing power if he returns to the White House after Fox News host Sean Hannity asked him to respond to growing criticism of his rhetoric. The Republican presidential front-runner has talked about targeting his rivals — referring to them as “vermin” — and vowed to seek retribution if he wins a second term for what he argues are politically motivated prosecutions against him. As Trump has dominated the Republican presidential primary, US President Joe Biden has stepped up his own warnings, contending that Trump is “determined to destroy American democracy.” “Under no
Seventeen people died and 11 were injured when a passenger bus careered off a road on a “killer curve” and plunged down a mountain in the central Philippines, officials said yesterday. The bus was traveling in Hamtic municipality in Antique province when the crash happened on Tuesday afternoon, Antique Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office head Roderick Train said. Seven people were in critical condition in a hospital and four others were stable, Train said, describing the section of road as “accident prone.” One Kenyan national was among those killed, and a second Kenyan was among those critically injured. The bus, which came from