Guangzhou becomes China’s COVID-19 epicenter, more lockdowns expected

Guangzhou has become China’s latest COVID-19 epicenter, challenging the city’s ability to prevent a Shanghai-style shutdown, as evidenced by statistics released by the Chinese government on Tuesday.

China’s health authority reported that new locally transmitted diseases rose to 7,475 on November 7, up from 5,475 the day before and the highest number since May 1. Guangzhou was responsible for over one-third of the new infections.

The increase was modest by global standards but substantial for China, where outbreaks are easily contained. Economically crucial cities, like as Beijing, are requiring more PCR tests for inhabitants and, in certain circumstances, closing down neighborhoods and even districts.

The quick comeback will test China’s capacity to maintain precise and focused COVID measures, as well as investors’ expectations that the world’s second-largest economy could soon reopen its borders or perhaps abandon its zero-tolerance policy.

The yuan depreciated against the dollar and Chinese markets declined on Tuesday as the rising number of COVID cases dampened expectations about China’s reopening its borders, which have been closed to the majority of travelers, including tourists, since 2020.

Guangzhou, the provincial capital of Guangdong, reported 2,377 new local cases on November 7, up from 1,971 the day before. Two weeks ago, double-digit gains jumped dramatically.

As the number of cases increased, the enormous southern city, dubbed the “manufacturing floor of the world,” eclipsed the northern Inner Mongolia city of Hohhot as the epicenter of China’s current COVID outbreak, the most severe ever.

Many districts in Guangzhou, including the core district of Haizhu, have implemented varying degrees of restrictions and lockdowns. However, Guangzhou has thus far resisted a blanket lockdown similar to the one implemented in Shanghai early this year.

Shanghai, which is not currently experiencing a COVID revival, went into lockdown in April and May after reporting thousands of new infections each day in the final week of March.

Aaron Xu, who has a business in Guangzhou, stated, “We’ve been working from home for the past few days.”

“Few compounds have been secured thus far. The majority of disruptions involve the suspension of public transit services and the prohibition of couriers and food delivery by compound security. And daily PCR tests are required.”

Other cities Elsewhere in Guangdong province, the country’s largest air show began off in Zhuhai on Tuesday, with some spectators and delegates unexpectedly stopped from entering the event due to COVID measures enacted in response to the increasing number of instances in the coastal city.

Zhengzhou, the capital of central Henan province and a major production center for Apple supplier Foxconn, reported 733 new local instances on November 7, an increase of more than 100 percent from the previous day.

In Beijing, authorities found 64 new local illnesses, a modest increase compared to Guangzhou and Zhengzhou, but enough to prompt a new round of PCR testing for many individuals and the closure of further buildings and neighborhoods.

“The lockdown situation has continued to deteriorate rapidly across the country over the past week,” Nomura stated in a note on Monday. “Our in-house China COVID lockdown index rose to 12.2% of China’s total GDP from 9.5% last Monday.”

“We continue to expect that local officials’ tightening of the zero-COVID approach could more than balance Beijing’s potential fine-tuning of some COVID measures in the coming weeks.”

Chongqing, a city in southwest China, reported 281 new local cases, more than tripling the previous day’s total of 120.

At least four districts in Chongqing have been subject to new restrictions, including the closure of karaoke lounges, dance halls, and entertainment facilities. A local official described the situation as “complicated and terrible.”

In the coal-producing region of Inner Mongolia, Hohhot reported 1,760 new local cases on November 7, up from 1,013 the previous day.