China Covid cases top 2,500, rising the most in over 80 days

China reported 2,675 new local Covid cases for Sunday, up 802 from a day earlier, marking the biggest nationwide surge in infections since August 10.

The virus is spreading more rapidly in two-thirds of the country’s 31 provinces, including some of its biggest and most economically significant areas. Nationwide, the count accelerated from about 1,400 cases on average over the previous five days.

Three years into the pandemic, China is sticking to its Covid Zero policy despite heavy economic costs, growing discontent and isolation from the rest of the world. There are signs that the approach is starting to weigh on workers and families as well, as gradually increasing Covid controls make it more difficult to run the country’s businesses and participate in social activities.

Walt Disney Co.’s Shanghai resort and parks, including Disneyland and Disneytown, unexpectedly shut on Monday citing pandemic prevention and control requirements. The flagship theme park had reopened in June after being closed for 101 days during the city’s brutal lockdown this spring. There were 10 new local infections in the city reported Sunday.

The main production plant for Apple Inc.’s iPhones in Zhengzhou is grappling with an outbreak and struggling to care for the people responsible for assembling one of the hottest gifts as the year-end holidays approach.

Workers fled the closed-loop system set up in Foxconn Technology Group’s facility known as “iPhone City” over the weekend, citing inadequate living conditions. The company said it may boost capacity at other manufacturing sites to make up for any shortfall at its main plant in China.

The rising case counts are much more dramatic in Guangdong, a manufacturing powerhouse that accounted for 23 percent of China’s exports last year. It reported 757 new local infections on Sunday, nearly triple a day earlier and up from less than 100 for most of last week. Other provinces with large outbreaks include Xinjiang and Heilongjiang.

Many China watchers expected President Xi Jinping to signal a pivot away from what has become his signature Covid Zero policy when he took the podium at the Communist Party’s congress this month. Instead, he defended the no-tolerance strategy as one that saves lives, and offered no steer on when it’s likely to end. Bloomberg News

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