The number of newly confirmed COVID cases in China has continued to climb Tuesday, as local authorities reported more than 3,000 cases in the locked-down Province of Jilin alone. Across that province, cases have more than tripled from the 895 new cases reported just one day earlier. Meanwhile, on Tuesday, the NHC reported another 3,507 new locally transmitted cases in the rest of the country, more than double the 1,337 reported one day earlier.
It's just the latest escalation in COVID infections as China combats its worst national COVID outbreak since the start of the pandemic in Wuhan more than two years ago. According to the SCMP, Tuesday's tallies marked the highest number of cases since the outbreak in Wuhan, which was memorably crushed with a brutal 70-day-plus lockdown back in the spring and summer of 2020, according to the SCMP.
The cases reported outside Jilin were distributed across 20 provinces, including in China's economic powerhouses Guangdong province, which recorded 48 local symptomatic cases, and in Shanghai, which had nine.
Experts at China's Lanzhou University, which has carried out COVID prediction modelling over the past two years, believe the current outbreak will be curbed by early April with models indicating 35K infected by then.
New restrictions imposed on Tuesday included moving all schooling back online for the foreseeable future in Shanghai and Beijing. Meanwhile, Langfang, situated in the northern Hebei province near Beijing, has been locked down. Two other cities, Shanghai and Xi'an, have put in place some lockdown measures.
China has quashed COVID outbreaks before, including an earlier omicron wave, but none has grown as big as the current surge. Beijing said that containing the current outbreak has been difficult because of the population's high vaccination rates, and the relatively mild symptoms caused by omicron.
The economic fallout has sent Chinese stocks tumbling to lows not seen in years as the lockdown in Shenzhen rattles the country's tech sector.
We summed it up in a tweet:
For the past two years, China had at most 50-100 new daily covid cases. Now it's 5000, and it is shutting down key supply chain arteries that feed the US economy.— zerohedge (@zerohedge) March 15, 2022
Meanwhile, Hong Kong serves as a warning of the cost of failure. The city is still logging more than 26K new cases a day and is suffering the world's highest COVID rate of fatality, according to Reuters.
China's caseload is still tiny by global standards, but health experts said the increase in daily infections over the next few weeks would be key to determine whether its "dynamic zero-COVID" approach to containing each outbreak remains effective against the rapidly spreading Omicron variant.
Makers of everything from flash drives to the glass used for Apple's iPhone screens has warned of shipment delays as they comply with China's curbs against the disease, putting further strain on global supply chains.