| 19 April 2024, Friday |

China’s COVID epicenter shifts to Guangzhou as outbreaks widen

According to official data released on Tuesday, the number of new coronavirus infections spiked in Guangzhou and other Chinese cities, making the city the next COVID-19 epicentre in China and putting the city’s ability to prevent a lockdown in the manner of Shanghai to the test.

According to China’s health authority, new locally transmitted diseases nationwide increased to 7,475 on Nov. 7, up from 5,496 the day before and reaching their highest level since May 1. Nearly a third of the new illnesses originated in Guangzhou.

The increase was modest by global standards but significant for China, where outbreaks are to be quickly tackled when they surface under its zero-COVID policy. Economically vital cities, including the capital Beijing, are demanding more PCR tests for residents and locking down neighbourhoods and even districts in some cases.

The sharp rebound will test China’s ability to keep its COVID measures surgical and targeted, and could dampen investors’ hopes that the world’s second-largest economy could ease curbs and restrictions soon.

“We are seeing a game between rising voices for loosening controls and rapid spreading of COVID cases,” said Nie Wen, a Shanghai-based economist at Hwabao Trust.

Considering how the nationwide COVID curbs are crushing domestic consumption, Nie said he had downgraded his fourth-quarter economic growth forecast to around 3.5% from 4%-4.5%. The economy grew 3.9% in July-September.

The rising case load dragged on China’s stock markets on Tuesday, but shares have not yet surrendered last week’s big gains.

Investors see China’s beaten-down markets as an attractive prospect as a global slowdown looms, and have focused on small clues of gradual change – such as more targeted lockdowns and progress on vaccination rates.

  • Reuters