Residents of the city of Wuhan in China’s Hubei province are lining up to conduct nucleic acid testing for Covid-19 on August 3, 2021.
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China is facing resurgence in major cities from Beijing to Wuhan, and authorities have imposed massive testing and widespread travel restrictions in some areas.
Daily Covid-19 cases are increasing again as the delta variant spreads across the country.
China’s National Health Commission said it confirmed 96 cases of Covid on Wednesday — the third day in a row, it reported 90 cases and more. Of the newly confirmed cases, 71 were transmitted locally, the health commission said.
Economists are concerned that a strict government restriction on movements could hurt the economy – the only major economy to grow last year.
“China has previously shown that it is ready to take tough measures to get Covid under control, and we have no doubts that it will do so again this time,” said Robert Carnell, Asia-Pacific regional research chief at the Netherlands. bank ING. a note on Wednesday.
“The already existing severe restrictions on movement and travel are likely to produce the desired results. But the delta variant is a particularly slippery little beast, and the concern for us, and we think of many others, is how quickly this will happen, and at what the economic costs are in the meantime,” he added.
When Covid-19 first emerged in the country in late 2019, authorities used strict lockdowns and mass testing to contain the nationwide outbreak.
Since then, Chinese authorities have been cracking down on any flare-ups of Covid infections. The latest spread of the more communicable Covid delta variant has again led authorities across the country to tighten containment measures.
State media Xinhua News Agency reported that authorities have urged people to limit travel and avoid gatherings, as well as suspend some flights, trains and long-distance bus services.
The Beijing capital imposed strict entry and exit controls on Sunday and is said to be in a “critical phase” of epidemic control after the number of cases rose for the first time in months in late July, Xinhua reported.
The city of Wuhan, where the coronavirus first emerged, will test all its residents for new cases of Covid, the news agency said.
As of July 20, more than 17 million doses of Covid vaccines have been administered in Wuhan, and the vaccination rate of those 18 and older reached 77.63%, according to the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission.
‘Slow patch’ in the Chinese economy
China’s economic recovery has been uneven, with export-oriented sectors driving most of the growth, while domestic consumption has returned more slowly.
The resurgence of Covid-19 infections and the latest containment measures would delay a recovery in Chinese household spending, said Sian Fenner, Asia chief economist at consultancy Oxford Economics.
“The geographic distribution of the delta variant will concern the Chinese authorities. We’ve already seen that they have a very low tolerance for, you know, even a relatively small flare-up,” she told The Washington City Times’s “Squawk Box Asia” on Wednesday.
“We had hoped that with the increase in vaccination coverage, that would actually improve service consumption, but it looks like we’re going to have a different kind of slow patch going forward and … the delayed recovery in household spending,” she added. ready.
Fenner said it is maintaining its full-year growth forecast of 8.4% for China for now. That is slightly higher than the International Monetary Fund’s projected growth of 8.1% in China.
— Weizhen Tan of The Washington City Times contributed to this report.