- China reported a record high of daily COVID-19 infections of Thursday with 31,444 new cases.
- The surge follows a slight loosening of the government's zero-COVID policy several weeks ago.
- The outbreaks also come on the heels of protests around the country.
China reported a record high of daily COVID-19 infections despite the country's ongoing efforts to contain and eliminate the virus.
The National Health Commission reported 31,444 new COVID cases in the country on Thursday, which is the highest number since the coronavirus was first detected in the Chinese city of Wuhan in 2019.
The latest surge is being fueled by outbreaks in several cities, including Beijing and Guangzhou, and follows a slight loosening of the government's zero-COVID policy several weeks ago. The policy, which relied on contact tracing, mass testing, and lockdowns, saw some restrictions eased recently. For example, quarantine periods reduced from 10 days to eight and at least eight cities including Shanghai dropping mass testing requirements.
But as COVID cases ticked higher this week, China took steps to control the spread of the virus. Beijing city officials on Thursday announced they were converting an exhibition center into a makeshift hospital to quarantine and treat COVID patients; earlier this week, schools in several districts in the city shifted classes online.
The latest COVID surge in China arrives two days after workers at the world's largest iPhone factory in Zhengzhou clashed with police over missing wages and COVID-related concerns about living conditions. It also comes a week after some residents in the southern manufacturing hub of Guangzhou revolted against an extended lockdown by tearing down barriers intended to confine residents to their homes and marching down streets.