SHANGHAI, Nov 19 (Reuters) – China reported a slight drop in new COVID-19 cases on Saturday as many cities across the country battled outbreaks and restaurants and many other businesses in Beijing closed after that authorities have urged people to stay at home over the weekend.
Authorities have recently taken steps to try to mitigate the impact of their difficult policy approach to zero COVID, which is hitting the world’s second-largest economy and sowing frustration and anger, even as the number of cases has reached its highest. high level since April.
Many businesses in Beijing’s Chaoyang district, the capital’s main financial and diplomatic district, have closed or announced only limited services.
A restaurant owner in the nightlife hub of Sanlitun told Reuters authorities told him and other outlets in the area to close for three days from Saturday.
Beijing’s outlying districts of Fangshan and Huairou have announced additional testing requirements for people entering from other provinces.
Beijing reported 79 symptomatic and 436 asymptomatic cases on Friday compared with 100 symptomatic cases and 366 asymptomatic the day before, according to government data.
Authorities in Beijing are on high alert in hopes of preventing the numerous outbreaks of Omicron variants in other cities from spreading to the capital.
The latest data for the country showed 24,263 new locally transmitted cases, of which 2,055 were symptomatic and 22,208 were asymptomatic, up from 25,129 the day before.
That daily tally is approaching highs reached when Shanghai’s financial hub was locked down earlier in the year.
This time, however, the cases are spread across many cities, where officials are weighing the costs and benefits of easing policies that have hurt businesses.
Guangzhou, a southern city of nearly 19 million people, reported 269 new locally transmitted symptomatic cases and 8,444 asymptomatic cases, compared with 255 symptomatic cases and 8,989 asymptomatic cases a day earlier, authorities said.
Guangzhou authorities recently announced they would build facilities with more than 250,000 hospital beds to deal with the surge in cases. This week, residents staged a protest in defiance of strict lockdown policies.
The Zhengzhou manufacturing center reported 182 new locally transmitted symptomatic COVID infections and 1,385 asymptomatic cases, compared with 107 symptomatic cases and 1,556 asymptomatic cases the previous day, according to government data.
Closures in the city have caused some workers to flee a factory operated by Apple iPhone maker Foxconn. Authorities have responded by offering low-level officials and residents cash bonuses on top of salaries if they stay on production lines. (Reporting by Josh Horwitz in Shanghai; Editing by William Mallard, Robert Birsel)