China: COVID-19 cases at highest level in two years

China reported 402 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, nearly double the day before, as the highly contagious Omicron strain now affects a third of the country’s provinces.

These pollutions remain disproportionate to balance sheets in the rest of the world, but they pertain to China at their highest level since March 2020.

The country, where the coronavirus was first detected at the end of 2019, is pursuing a zero-Covid policy, which helped stop the epidemic quickly, but comes with a high social and economic cost.

As soon as a case emerges, the authorities generally impose strict containment measures on a large scale and conduct extensive and frequent screening of the population.

China: COVID-19 cases at highest level in two years

However, this approach raises questions about the feasibility of such a strategy. In his annual address to parliament, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said on Saturday that China must “constantly improve” its measures against the epidemic.

The majority of new cases were recorded Thursday in Jilin Province (northeast) bordering North Korea, as well as in the coastal city of Qingdao (east) overlooking the Yellow Sea.

Despite the resurgence of the epidemic, local authorities appear to be taking a more moderate approach.

Thus, the Jilin capital that bears its name did not issue a decree of confinement, but simply ordered its residents to avoid any non-essential travel.

As for Qingdao, only residents of areas where Omicron cases were detected are being examined.

In October 2020, the city tested all of its 10 million residents, after a few cases emerged.

More recently, in December, the authorities imposed severe restrictions on 13 million people in the city of Xi’an (north).

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This month-long lockdown was the longest and most extensive imposed in China since the quarantine in Wuhan (center), the first epicenter of the epidemic, from January to April 2020.

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