China Battles Karaoke COVID Cluster; Infections Spread To More Cities
China is fighting nascent COVID-19 flare-ups across the country with mass testing and new restrictions, notably in weary Shanghai, where new cases have been linked to a building that houses an illegally functioning karaoke lounge, Brenda Goh and Roxanne Liu reported for Reuters.
Photo Insert: New cases in Shanghai have been linked to a building that houses an illegally functioning karaoke lounge.
Officials are under increasing pressure to prevent a wider spread and disruptions similar to the painful and costly isolation that Shanghai, China's most populated metropolis, experienced in April and May. These commercial shocks reverberated throughout the global economy. Cases were also reported in Beijing and Xian, as well as the provinces of Shaanxi and Anhui.
"Several Chinese areas are facing local outbreaks and infections have emerged at the community level in Shanghai," city health official Zhao Dandan told reporters on Wednesday.
"There should be no slacking," Zhao said. While the latest daily caseload of just over 300 infections is insignificant by global standards, the officials' reaction shows China's firm commitment to its policy to eradicate all outbreaks.
Fears that additional lockdowns to stem the spread of the disease will stifle business in the world's second-largest economy weighed on Chinese stocks and financial markets throughout the world. While the rest of the world tries to coexist with the virus, China is the only major economy clinging to a "zero-COVID" strategy aimed at quickly eradicating all breakouts.
On Wednesday, Shanghai added 26 addresses to the list of buildings under lockdown, bringing the total to 31. One COVID infection was suspected in one of the landmark International Financial Center twin towers, and two levels of office personnel were quarantined as close contacts.
The business hub of 25 million people recorded 24 new cases on Tuesday, up from eight on Monday. From Tuesday through Thursday, it is evaluating all people in nine of its sixteen districts, as well as some from neighboring places.
Beijing, which reported three new cases as of 3 p.m. on Wednesday, ordered transportation hubs and hotels to check guests' body temperatures and provide documentation of negative COVID test results.
Only vaccinated Beijing residents will be allowed to visit crowded places beginning July 11, according to officials.
Meanwhile, the caseload in eastern Anhui province, where more than 1 million people are being held in restrictive small communities, fell to 222 on Tuesday, down from 231 the day before. The province continues to account for the majority of new infections in China.