China’s coronavirus lockdowns spread across much of the nation this week, hitting large cities and manufacturing hubs in what the state-run Global Times conceded was a “grim epidemic situation.”
The Global Times reported Henan province is bracing for “potential [Chinese coronavirus] outbreaks in the winter and next spring,” which suggests residents of the provincial capital Zhengzhou should enjoy the lifting of coronavirus restrictions in select “low-risk areas” while they can.
Zhengzhou is the location of the Foxconn plant, the world’s largest factory for assembling Apple’s iPhones. Terrified workers are scrambling over fences and fleeing the city to escape a potential lockdown after a rash of Chinese coronavirus infections was reported at the facility.
The Global Times reported that Zhengzhou officials are simultaneously pleading with Foxconn workers to remain calm and regard Chinese coronavirus as a treatable disease of moderate severity – an astonishing 180-degree turn from the Communist Party’s usual rhetoric – and offering rides home to the workers who insist on leaving:
An additional 200 staff doing nucleic acid tests have been dispatched to the Foxconn production plant, as a way to detect the infectors as soon as possible amid several rounds of nucleic acid test, in order to curb the virus spreading, according to the local authorities on Monday. Meanwhile, an additional 400 working staff have also been dispatched to the region to do timely disinfection.
Foxconn previously denied rumors claiming that about 20,000 employees have been affected with COVID-19 in the company’s Zhengzhou park and claimed that “operation and production in the Zhengzhou park is relatively stable with health and safety measures for employees being maintained,” according to a statement sent to the Global Times previously.
A classified epidemic management will be conducted to help resume the normal life gradually in Zhengzhou. Residents should abide by the requirements of epidemic prevention and control, wear masks, scan health codes, check the negative nucleic acid test certificate within 24 hours before traveling, and residents are not allowed to go to the COVID-19 affected areas, said the authorities.
Even as city officials proclaimed looser coronavirus restrictions and the return of “normal life” to parts of Zhengzhou, they also instructed residents “not to leave the city unless necessary.”
Guangzhou, the provincial capital of Guangdong, has also reported a “serious outbreak,” which Chinese Communist officials blamed largely on “imported [Chinese coronavirus] cases from other provinces and overseas.”
Guangzhou officials canceled 888 flights by noon on Monday, shutting down about three-quarters of airport traffic. City health officials claimed infections were spread by “freight drivers, tourists, students, and those coming to Guangzhou for medical treatment,” which suggests more draconian restrictions on road and train travel might be coming.
Near-total airport shutdowns were reported in other cities as well, including Urumqi, the capital of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. The oppressed Uyghur Muslims have complained of particularly callous treatment by Chinese officials during coronavirus lockdowns.
Hohhot, the capital of Inner Mongolia, also reported almost 100 percent of its flights were canceled, giving it the highest cancellation rate in China as of Wednesday.
The Chinese Centers for Disease Control on Tuesday warned of a possible “twindemic,” as influenza is spreading rapidly alongside Chinese coronavirus infections. Chinese CDC officials called for “accelerated vaccination and other measures to prevent such a scenario.”