Beijing: Beijing reported a new high in its Covid-19 caseload and two more deaths on Tuesday as authorities shut down parks, office buildings and shopping malls, moving the city’s most populous Chaoyang district closer to a full lockdown and urging residents not to venture out unless necessary.

Health officials urged Chaoyang district’s nearly 3.5 million residents to remain at home after it became the worst-hit area in the capital’s latest Covid flare-up. Local authorities identified over 1,400 cases in Beijing for Monday with 783 infections detected in Chaoyang alone.

It was the first time that Beijing recorded over 1,000 new cases in a day since the pandemic began in late 2019 in the central Chinese city of Wuhan.

The death toll in Beijing now stands at five.

“The local epidemic situation in China is severe and complex, the spread of the epidemic in some areas is accelerating, and the difficulty of prevention and control is increasing,” Hu Xiang, from the National Disease Control and Prevention Administration was quoted as saying by state media on Tuesday.

“The number of new infections (across China) continues to increase. Since November 1, a total of 253,000 infections have been reported nationwide, with an average of 22,200 cases reported per day for the past week, double the previous week,” Hu said, adding that some provinces are facing the most severe and complex situation in three years.

Majority of Beijing residents have been directed to take daily nucleic acid tests as they need to hold negative test results to enter grocery stores and supermarkets.

South China’s Guangzhou city continued on Tuesday to be the worst hit in the ongoing outbreak in China, reporting 253 new locally transmitted symptomatic and 7,957 asymptomatic cases for Monday.

Millions remain locked down in the sprawling city with restrictions imposed on intra-city travel.

The Tianjin municipality, near Beijing, on Tuesday became the latest city to order city-wide testing, after a similar announcement on Sunday by Shijiazhuang, capital of the neighbouring Hebei province, which reversed its earlier decision of doing away with mass tests.

China reported 28,127 new local cases nationally for Monday, nearing its daily peak from April, the national health commission (NHC) said in its daily bulletin on Tuesday.

Densely populated cities like Guangzhou, Chongqing in southwest China and Beijing have been hit hard in the ongoing outbreak, primarily driven by the Omicron BF.7 variant.

As total Covid case numbers in China increase, the lockdown situation has continued to deteriorate across the country over the past week, brokerage firm Nomura said in a report, based on its Nomura China Covid lockdown index (CLI), on Tuesday.

“According to government statistics and our survey, as of 21 November, 49 cities currently have various levels of lockdown in place or some kind of district-based control measures. We estimate around 412 million individuals are currently affected by these lockdown measures, up from 340 million in the previous week,” Nomura said in a statement.

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