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China Locks Down 17.5 Million In Shenzhen As Daily COVID Cases Soar To 2-Year High

Tyler Durden's Photo
by Tyler Durden
Sunday, Mar 13, 2022 - 07:30 PM

Everybody from automobile manufacturers to tablet-makers around the globe better watch out: supplies of vital microchips and other high-tech components are about to grind to a halt once again now that China is locking down Shenzhen, known as the country's Silicon Valley, due to the rising COVID numbers that forcing a fresh round of lockdowns across China.

On Sunday, Shenzhen placed its 17.5MM residents on a lockdown that’s supposed to last until March 20, Bloomberg reports. It has become the latest threat to Chinese stock and bond markets, as the number of nationwide cases has doubled to 3,200. So much for Beijing's "COVID Zero" policy (which authorities were reportedly on the brink of abandoning).

The new wide-ranging lockdown in Shenzhen is an expansion of earlier restrictions placed on the city’s business district. Although cases are climbing throughout the country, the surge in infections is reportedly linked to the neighboring city of Hong Kong, where about 300K people are currently in isolation or under home quarantine, and where new infections are being recorded at a rate of roughly 10K per day.

China's latest breakout at a time when the world has largely moved on from the Wu-Flu has mutated into a serious threat to China's strategy for moving on from the pandemic. While the West is focusing on reopening its economies, Chinese leaders must now sit back in dismay as some of their largest cities are again bombarded by the virus.

So far, authorities have largely resisted tactics such as lockdowns and mass testing and relied mostly on targeted responses, only to see omicron continue to spread. In Shenzhen, they  will launch three rounds of mass testing of residents.

But looking more broadly, Chinese authorities appear to have a much bigger problem on their hands.

In the span of just a couple of weeks, China is scrambling to address what has become its biggest COVID outbreak in two years, reporting soaring cases in a fresh wave that has seen the country tweak its zero-COVID policy by allowing rapid antigen tests for public use.

After the number of newly recorded cases topped 1,000 for two days in a row, new locally transmitted cases surged to more than 3,200 on Sunday, the worst since 2020 driven by a spike in symptomatic infections, according to the National Health Commission and the SCMP.

So far during the outbreak, some 16 provinces have reported new coronavirus infections, as have the four megacities: Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai and Chongqing. But one of the most troubling signs of all: local symptomatic cases have more than tripled to 1,807, from 476 a day earlier, the NHC said. Asymptomatic infections edged up to 1,315, from 1,048 the prior day.

Shenzen wasn't the only city locked down this weekend: Jilin, a city at the center of the latest outbreak in the Chinese northeast, has been partially locked down since Saturday, while residents of Yanji, an urban area of nearly 700K bordering North Korea, were also confined to their homes on Sunday. Meanwhile, on the east coast, the financial hub of Shanghai and port city of Qingdao in Shandong province are also battling serious outbreaks. Across the country, local authorities are scrambling to build makeshift hospitals, as they hope to make thousands of beds available with each passing day.

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