(Bloomberg) -- Beijing’s monthlong Covid-19 outbreak continues to flare, with 29 new cases recorded for Thursday amid rising anxiety from within China’s government about the impact of its Covid Zero policy on the economy.
The Chinese capital has seen a consistent drumbeat of infections since the current outbreak started to gather pace toward the end of April. New cases spiked to 99 on Sunday, a record for this flareup, even as officials impose a raft of restrictions, including work-from-home orders for most Beijing districts.
The ongoing outbreak in China’s center of political power comes as concerns about the world’s second-largest economy mount. Premier Li Keqiang warned cadres in a rare emergency meeting Wednesday that growth risks slipping out of a reasonable range, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg News. Local officials throughout China were given a list of objectives to focus on this year, including better balancing the containment of Covid with economic growth.
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In Shanghai, there were 264 new cases on Thursday, according to CCTV, all in quarantine facilities. The city of 25 million is slowly emerging from an intensive, almost two-month lockdown that disrupted manufacturing and business, while keeping residents confined to their homes. People are still being subjected to a range of curbs on their movement, as authorities strive to prevent a return of cases in the community.
The financial hub started to exit the lockdown mid-May, after reporting three consecutive days of zero infections outside of government-mandated quarantine. It’s a target Beijing is also chasing, with officials reluctant to impose a stringent, Shanghai-style lockdown on the capital and seat of Communist Party power.
China is struggling to balance its need to hit a growth target of about 5.5% this year with its steadfast adherence to a Covid approach that is becoming less tenable as the rest of the world opens up and more transmissible virus variants take hold. The country’s borders remain effectively closed, all cases and their close contacts are put into government isolation and consistent, sometimes disruptive mass testing remains a key part of the Covid playbook.
The country is due to report figures on industrial sector profits Friday, with recent data pointing to marked turmoil in the economy. China has fallen to second-last in Bloomberg’s Covid Resilience Ranking of the best and worst places to be in the pandemic, as outbreaks trigger curbs on mobility and the functioning of business and everyday life.
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Tianjin, a key port city close to Beijing, is also seeing a simmering outbreak. The city center was locked down this week as cases flared. Tianjin reported 18 new infections for Wednesday, according to state broadcaster CCTV.
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