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China imposes fresh lockdowns as COVID-19 cases surge after holiday

Workers in protective suits stand at an entrance to a university's residential area under lockdown following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Xian, Shaanxi province, China December 20, 2021. (File photo by China Daily via Reuters)

Chinese cities have begun to impose fresh lockdowns and travel restrictions after the number of new daily COVID-19 cases tripled during a week-long holiday, ahead of a major Communist Party meeting in Beijing next week.

The latest lockdown was announced on Monday in Fenyang city in northern China's Shanxi province after a positive case was identified in citywide testing the previous day, state broadcaster CCTV reported.

In Shanghai, where residents endured prolonged lockdowns earlier this year,  two districts announced closures of cinemas and other entertainment venues on Monday amid the latest scare. 

In the nearby Inner Mongolia region, the capital Hohhot announced that vehicles and passengers would be prohibited from entering the city from Tuesday.

The city recorded more than 2,000 new COVID cases in less than a fortnight.

Authorities asked people to refrain from traveling out of their cities as the number of new daily cases tripled compared to before the holiday that began on October 1.

In the meantime, COVID-19 outbreaks have been reported all across the country with the largest spread of disease recorded in Inner Mongolia and the far-west Xinjiang region. Both regions have been recording several hundred new cases a day.

Free COVID-19 tests several times a week have become the norm for many Chinese, with the capital city Beijing and several other cities requiring a negative test result within 72 hours to enter parks, office buildings, shops and other public places.

The latest COVID-19 case numbers in China are not that big according to global standards. However, Beijing observes a strict zero-COVID policy that means any outbreak of the disease must be immediately eradicated.

Earlier this year, China condemned "groundless accusations" against its strict zero-COVID policy, insisting that its strategy has proved undeniably effective in controlling and curbing COVID-19 contagious disease across the Asian country.

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