BEIJING – China’s southern metropolis of Guangzhou announced plans Thursday to build quarantine facilities for nearly 250,000 people to fight surging coronavirus outbreaks even as the national government tries to reduce the impact of anti-disease controls that have confined millions of people to their homes.
Guangzhou, a city of 13 million people and the biggest of a series of hot spots across China with outbreaks since early October, reported 9,680 new cases in the past 24 hours. That was about 40% of the 23,276 cases reported nationwide.
China’s infection numbers are low compared with the United States and other major countries, but the ruling Communist Party is trying to isolate every case. Repeated closures of neighborhoods, schools and businesses are fueling public frustration and clashes with health workers.
Authorities in Guangzhou sent 95,300 people from the city’s Haizhu district to quarantine centers or for hospital treatment, the government announced.
Access to the district of 1.8 million people was suspended last week following outbreaks. Videos on social media that said they were shot in Guangzhou showed angry residents knocking over barriers set up by white-garbed health workers.
A spike in infections has led officials in areas across China to confine families to cramped apartments or order people into quarantine if a single case is found in their workplace or neighborhood.
The Communist Party promised last week to cut the cost of anti-virus controls by reducing the length of quarantines and changing other rules. However, party leaders said they will stick to the “zero COVID” strategy.
Also Thursday, authorities faced more public anger after a second child’s death was blamed on overzealous anti-virus enforcement.
The 4-month-old girl died after suffering vomiting and diarrhea while in quarantine at a hotel in the central city of Zhengzhou, according to news reports and social media posts.