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China’s Covid-19 cases surge to near 20,000, the highest since late April

BEIJING – China’s daily Covid-19 tally surged to almost 20,000, with enduring outbreaks in key cities testing local authorities’ appetite to ease the burden of Covid-zero restrictions while getting infections under control.

The country reported 19,609 cases for Tuesday, the highest since late April when financial hub Shanghai was in the midst of a two-month lockdown.

The southern manufacturing hub of Guangzhou remains the biggest hot spot, with 6,296 new infections. Chongqing posted a slight decline in numbers, but reported cases held above 2,000 for a third day.

The outbreaks are a major test for China’s recently overhauled Covid-19 strategy, which includes shorter quarantine and reining in the onerous mass testing and sudden citywide lockdowns that wreaked havoc on the economy and residents’ daily lives.

While the changes sparked optimism that the country may finally be looking to shift away from the zero-tolerance approach that has left it isolated, officials and state media have reiterated that they are sticking to Covid-zero.

The north-western province of Gansu saw cases more than triple in a day, hitting 2,688 on Tuesday. Beijing’s infections dropped by 100 to 361.

In a further sign of officials easing the burden of Covid-zero, China will no longer prohibit cross-provincial travel businesses from regions designated as high- and-medium risk areas.

Meanwhile, the Shanghai Disney Resort said it would open some parts of the resort from Thursday, but the main Disneyland park would stay shut until further notice.

“Disneytown, Wishing Star Park and Shanghai Disneyland Hotel will resume operations on Nov 17, with hotel reservation services restarting today,” the resort said on Wednesday.

“Shanghai Disneyland will remain temporarily closed until further notice,” the statement added. “Toy Story Hotel will also remain temporarily closed.”

The resort was closed on Oct 31 after a visitor tested positive for Covid-19. It became the centre of a massive contact-tracing exercise that prompted many stay-at-home orders as well as mandatory testing notices. - BLOOMBERG, REUTERS

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