BEIJING, China: Officials from Beijing's most populous district, Chaoyang, have urged residents to remain at home as the city is witnessing an increase in COVID-19 cases, with many businesses closing and schools shifting to online classes.
On November 20, new Covid cases throughout the country hit the peaks recorded in April, amidst national efforts to ease the repercussions of containment measures on the economy and residents fed up with lockdowns, quarantines and other disruptions.
However, the Chinese government has affirmed its commitment to its zero-COVID approach.
"The number of cases discovered outside quarantine is increasing rapidly at present, and there are hidden transmission risks from multiple places. The pressure on Beijing has further increased," said Liu Xiaofeng, of the Beijing Center for Disease Prevention and Control, as quoted by Reuters.
On November 19, 621 new infections were reported in Beijing, up from 515 one day earlier. As of 3 pm on November 20, a further 516 new infections were recorded.
While official Chinese figures are low by international standards, the country's zero-COVID approach had made it an outlier, some three years into the pandemic.
Meanwhile, the ruling Communist Party's official newspaper, the People's Daily, has warned that the pandemic may expand due to mutations and seasonal factors.
"The situation of pandemic control is severe. We must maintain confidence that we will win, resolutely overcome issues, such as insufficient understanding and insufficient preparation," the newspaper said in an editorial.