China Locks Down iPhone City As Covid Cases Soar To Record High

  • China recorded a record number of daily Covid cases on Wednesday amid a surge in the Omicron strain.
  • It tightened lockdowns in affected areas such as Zhengzhou, home to the world’s largest iPhone factory.
  • The IMF has called on China to redefine its stance on Covid-zero, to support the economy.

Zhengzhou, a city in east-central China and home to the world’s largest Apple iPhone factory, will remain largely on lockdown from Friday until next Tuesday, local authorities said late Wednesday.

The restrictions come amid a surge in COVID-19 infections in China. Officials in Zhengzhou call the situation – which is mostly concentrated in urban areas – “still serious and complicated”.

China is experiencing a serious outbreak of the highly contagious Omicron variant, posing a challenge to the country’s draconian stance on Covid-zero. China reported a record high of 31,444 local infections on Wednesday, including asymptomatic cases, according to the country’s National Health Commission.

The relentless push to stamp out Covid is causing resentment in the country — including at Apple’s largest iPhone manufacturing plant in Zhengzhou, where workers reportedly rioted against pandemic restrictions on Wednesday.

The surge in COVID-19 cases also casts doubt on whether the world’s second-largest economy will be able to fully emerge from the pandemic.

Earlier this month, Chinese stock markets rallied on speculation that the country was preparing to ease its stance on Covid-zero. But that optimism now appears to be misplaced because there aren’t enough hospital intensive care units, or ICUs, for a widespread outbreak in China, Bloomberg Intelligence reported Wednesday.

“There is no way we can deal with an uncontrollable wave of infections,” Bloomberg Intelligence senior pharmaceutical analyst Sam Fazeli said in the report. “This reinforces the need for local infection control, including business closures, extending China’s opening.”

It estimates that the full opening of China’s economy is likely to extend beyond 2023.

Even the International Monetary Fund has called on China to adjust its COVID-19 strategy in order to support the economy.

“Going forward, a further recalibration of the COVID strategy should be well prepared and include boosting the vaccination rate and keeping it high to ensure protection is maintained,” said First Deputy CEO Gita Gopinath in a statement.

Despite an increase in COVID-19 cases in China, markets in China and Hong Kong are flat at midday on Thursday.

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