Pandemic lockdowns are expanding across China as the number of new COVID-19 cases rose by 31,444 on Thursday. The daily caseload has been steadily increasing. Meanwhile authorities reported China’s first COVID-19 deaths in six months this week, bringing the total to 5,232.
China's National Health Commission reported 31,444 COVID-19 infections on Thursday, the highest daily figure recorded since the coronavirus was first detected in Wuhan in late 2019.
While China has an overall vaccination rate of more than 92%, and still operates a zero-tolerance policy, the infection rate is showing no signs of slowing down.
"The number of new infections continues to increase. Since November 1,253,000 cases of infection have been reported nationwide" said Hu Xiang, an inspector for the Department of Infectious Diseases, at the National Bureau of Disease Control and Prevention.
"In the past week, an average of 22,200 cases were reported every day, which was twice the number of the previous week", he added.
Cases and deaths are relatively low in China compared to the US, India or France but the government remains steadfast to its zero-covid policy.
The Communist Party has announced a new wave of lockdowns in a bid to contain the spread of the virus. Millions of people in China are once again under collective quarantine.
In Beijing workers in protective suits have installed metal barriers in some neighbourhoods where coronavirus cases have been detected.
People can only go out to buy food or receive medical treatment and to do so they must scan their health QR codes.
Beijing this week opened a hospital in an exhibition centre and suspended access to Beijing International Studies University after a case was found there.
The capital earlier closed shopping malls and office buildings and suspended access to some apartment compounds.
In the industrial city of Zhengzhou, 6.6 million residents have been ordered to stay indoors for 5 days until COVID-19 cases subside.
The party is trying to contain the latest wave of outbreaks without shutting down factories and the rest of its economy as it did in early 2020.
Its tactics include "closed-loop management," under which workers live in their factories with no outside contact.
While authorities have shortened quarantine periods and have vowed to improve COVID-19 protocols to help facilitate travel, some residents say the country's hard-line restrictions go beyond what the national government allows.
This comes as factory workers for Foxconn, the world's biggest smartphone plant, clashed with police earlier this week amid reports of low pay, unsafe working and living conditions at the Zhengzhou plant.
The facilty of about 200,000 workers was sealed earlier this month following a surge of infections onsite.
Some Covid-negative staff claimed they were forced to work alongside colleagues who had tested positive but had not quarantined. Workers are now calling on owners to pay outstanding salaries and bonuses.
Tech giant Apple, one of Foxconn's major partners has now warned that it expects it will receive lower shipments of iPhone models and will struggle to resume full production by the end of November.