Beijing told the 3.5m residents of its most populous district to stay at home from Monday, in a bid to contain rising COVID-19 infections. China’s capital reported 516 new infections as of 3pm on Sunday, as well as the death of an 87-year-old man, China’s first known COVID fatality since 26 May. The government recently announced a slight easing of its most draconian COVID-control policies.
China had announced 20 revisions of pandemic control and prevention measures that somewhat eased the burden on its weary, frustrated population. Changes include cutting required stays in designated quarantine facilities from 7 days to 5 days for international travellers and close contacts of infected people, ending tracing of contacts of patients’ contacts, and restricting mass testing to situations where the source of infection is unclear. On 14 November, residents of Guangzhou defied a lockdown by crashing barriers and marching through the streets. The policy changes came as COVID-19 began surging again in China: The National Health Commission reported 17,909 new cases on 14 November, the most since the spring. Most of the new cases were asymptomatic.
Lalita Panicker is consulting editor, views, Hindustan Times, New Delhi