China’s Covid infections are declining for the primary time in additional than per week

China’s capital Beijing is one of the hardest-hit cities in the recent Covid wave. Pictured here is a healthcare worker on November 27, 2022 in front of a cordoned off apartment complex.

Kevin Frayer | News from Getty Images | Getty Images

BEIJING — Mainland China on Monday reported the first drop in daily Covid infections in more than a week.

The country said local infections, mostly asymptomatic, totaled 38,421, compared with a record high of 40,052 reported for Sunday, according to CNBC calculations from Wind Information data.

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The last time the daily case count fell from the previous day was on November 19, the data showed.

Local infections declined in Guangdong and Chongqing, two of the hardest-hit regions in the recent Covid wave. No new deaths were reported.

But in the capital Beijing, infections rose Monday from a day earlier, as did Shanghai, albeit to a much lesser extent. Shanghai Disneyland said it would cease operations starting Tuesday after briefly reopening on Friday. Universal Beijing Resort remains open.

There were no indications of new protests on Monday. Over the weekend, students and groups of people across China held public demonstrations to protest the country’s strict zero-Covid policy.

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According to social media, security has tightened in areas where protesters had gathered in Beijing and Shanghai. Some social media reports said police checked locals’ phones in Shanghai for foreign apps that cannot be accessed on the mainland without a VPN.

China’s official nightly newscast on Monday made no mention of the unrest but did include a section calling for unity on the current Covid measures. The show also highlighted how the government kept up health services and delivery of essentials to people in lockdown.

The purpose of the measures is to minimize the impact of Covid on the economy and society, claimed an op-ed Tuesday in People’s Daily, the official newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party. The article firmly ruled out the idea of ​​relaxing controls.

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Strict Covid controls this year have weighed heavily on business activity and economic growth in China. As of the third quarter, national GDP had grown by 3% year-on-year, well below the official target of around 5.5% set in March.

As of Monday, 25.1% of China’s GDP was negatively affected by Covid controls, according to a Nomura model. That’s above the previous peak of 21.2% recorded in April during lockdown in Shanghai.

“The rapid increase in public discontent over last weekend’s lockdowns could further cloud the road to reopening,” analysts at Nomura said.

Loosen and tighten policy changes

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Local authorities then banned the use of hard materials to block emergency exits, apartment building doors and entrances to apartment buildings, noting that short-term closures should not exceed 24 hours.

They also said the channels to seek medical treatment should remain unhindered. Previously, anecdotes on social media described how people were being denied access to medical care because of supposed Covid controls.

Covid measures and their implementation have varied locally, particularly given the dispersed nature of outbreaks.

From Tuesday, the city of Shanghai tightened restrictions on entering restaurants, shopping malls and other commercial establishments. Anyone wishing to enter must now provide a negative virus test within the last 48 hours instead of 72 hours.

And after the protests, at least Tsinghua University has encouraged students to return home earlier for the Lunar New Year winter break — more than a month in advance.

— CNBC’s Eunice Yoon contributed to this report.

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