On Monday (28.11), the Chinese authorities eased some measures in the context of the fight against Covid-19. However, they made sure that the “zero cases” strategy of the disease remained.
The remarks follow demonstrations calling for the resignation of President Xi Jinping, in the biggest show of opposition to the Communist Party in decades.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian accused “forces with ulterior motives” of “establishing a link” between a deadly fire in the northwestern Chinese city of Urumqi and the lockdown measures imposed under the “no cases” strategy for Covid-19.
In response to the wave of protests in recent days, under “the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party and with the support of the Chinese people, our fight against Covid-19 will culminate in success,” Zhao stressed.
The demonstrations began last Friday (25.11) and spread to several cities, including Shanghai, the country’s financial center, where a BBC correspondent was attacked, arrested and released shortly after – an assault the UK government has classified as ” unacceptable”. .
In Beijing, hundreds of residents left their homes in protest against the epidemic prevention measures in force in China.
In some cities, demonstrators chanted slogans against President Xi Jinping and his Communist Party.
Citizens blamed the blockade in the city of Urumqi for delaying relief efforts during the fire that killed 10 people. Pictures circulated on social media show that the fire engine was initially unable to enter the neighborhood, as the entrance gate was closed, and that the residents were also unable to escape from the building whose door was closed.
Authorities have denied some allegations about the fire, stating that some online photos of locked doors are fake, according to Xinhua.
The same source acknowledged that there were problems with firefighters’ arrival, but blamed cars parked in front of the neighborhood.
After this episode in Urumqi, but without mentioning the fire, the Beijing city government said it would no longer lock gates to prevent access to residential units as new cases of Covid-19 were confirmed.
In addition, the industrial and commercial city of Guangzhou, the main hub of China’s recent wave of infections, announced that some residents would no longer be required to undergo mass testing.
Urumqi, where the fire took place, and another city in the country’s northwestern Xinjiang region announced that markets and other businesses in areas deemed to be low risk of infection would reopen this week, and that public bus service would resume.
The “Zero Covid” strategy, which aims to isolate all infected people, has helped keep case numbers in China lower than in other countries such as the United States. But it has locked thousands of people in their homes for up to four months, some complaining of a lack of food and reliable medical supplies.
Last month, the ruling party pledged to soften the strategy by changing quarantine and other rules. But public acceptance is eroding after a surge in infections prompted cities to tighten controls.
According to data from the National Health Commission, China broke the record for infections on Saturday, revealing nearly 40,000 new cases, although more than 90% of cases are asymptomatic. On Monday, the number of new daily cases rose to 40,347, of which 36,525 were asymptomatic.
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