By John Ikani
Shanghai reported a record number of symptomatic Covid-19 cases on Saturday and other areas across China imposed restrictions as the country kept up its “dynamic clearance” approach that aims to stamp out the highly transmissible Omicron Covid-19 variant.
The Zhengzhou Airport Economic Zone, a central Chinese manufacturing area that includes Apple Inc supplier Foxconn, announced a 14-day lockdown on Friday “to be adjusted according to the epidemic situation”.
In northwestern China, the city of Xian on Friday urged residents to avoid unnecessary trips outside their residential compounds and encouraged companies to have employees work from home or live at their workplace, after dozens of Covid-19 infections this month.
A Xian government official, responding to residents’ concerns over potential food shortages, said on Saturday that the announcement did not constitute a lockdown and that the city would not impose one.
Shanghai, at the centre of China’s recent outbreak, on Saturday reported a record 3,590 symptomatic cases for April 15, as well as 19,923 asymptomatic cases. The asymptomatic case number was up slightly from 19,872 cases a day earlier.
The city’s Covid-19 case tally makes up the vast majority of cases nationwide even as most of its 25-million residents remain under lockdown.
The lingering and widening restrictions highlight broad supply chain disruptions that are seen likely to lead to delays in shipments from companies including Apple.
Economists also say the curbs will weigh on the country’s economic growth rate this year.
China’s central bank on Friday evening cut the amount of cash that banks must hold as reserves, aiming to cushion a sharp slowdown in growth.
On Friday, the chief of Chinese electric car marker Xpeng said that automakers may have to suspend production next month if suppliers in Shanghai and surrounding areas cannot resume work.
The city of Suzhou, near Shanghai, said on Saturday that all employees capable of working from home must do so, and residential compounds and company campuses should avoid unnecessary entry of people and vehicles. It has reported more than 500 infections in its latest outbreak.
At the Zhengzhou facility, only personnel with valid passes, health codes and proof of negative Covid-19 tests will be able to leave the zone during the period, though “special vehicles” will be able to travel normally for work reasons, economic zone authorities said in a post on an official WeChat instant messaging account.
Foxconn, the trade name of Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd , referred Reuters to its statement on Thursday which said that its Zhengzhou facility was co-operating with the government’s epidemic control work, and that plant operations were normal.
Overall, China reported 24,791 new coronavirus cases on April 15, of which 3,896 were symptomatic and 20,895 were asymptomatic, the National Health Commission said on Saturday.
That compares with 24,268 new cases a day earlier — 3,486 symptomatic and 20,782 asymptomatic infections, which China counts separately.