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The southern Chinese metropolis of Guangzhou locked down its largest district Monday as it tries to tamp down a major COVID-19 outbreak, suspending public transit and requiring residents to present a negative test if they want to leave their homes.
The outbreak is testing China’s attempt to bring a more “targeted” approach to its zero-COVID policies while facing multiple outbreaks. China is the only major country in the world still trying to curb virus transmissions through strict lockdown measures and mass testing.
Baiyun district in Guangzhou also suspended in-person classes for schools and sealed off universities. The measures are meant to last until Friday, the city announced.
Meanwhile in Beijing, the capital reported two more COVID-19-related deaths. On Sunday, the city reported its first COVID-19 death in over six months.
While critics have questioned China’s COVID-19 numbers, and specifically its death toll, its intensive approach to trying to contain infections has prevented massive outbreaks and kept new daily cases lower than in many other countries.
Last week, China announced that it was relaxing some of its ‘”zero-COVID” policies, such as suspending flights from airlines that had brought a certain number of passengers who tested positive. It also cut down the time required in centralized quarantine for international arrivals from seven to five days.
The relaxation of some measures is an attempt to make the policies more “scientific and precise,” Lei Haichao, the deputy director of the National Health Commission, said last week.
Larger cities are still holding on to some of the tested measures, though in a more fragmented manner than shutting down an entire city, which they had previously done.
Shijiazhuang, a city in northern Hebei province, is testing all residents in six districts. In Beijing’s Haidian district, home to the city’s tech hub and top universities, schools shut down in-person classes in an announcement Sunday night.
Guangdong province, home to Guangzhou, reported the largest number of new cases Monday with 9,085 out of a total of 27,095 cases nationwide.
Associated Press news assistant Caroline Chen in Guangzhou, China, contributed to this report.