Beijing, Nov 30 (EFE).- The southern Chinese city of Guangzhou on Wednesday announced the reopening of several districts which had been in lockdown, amid rising discontent against the Covid-curbs, which led to residents clashing with the polcie overnight.
The local health authority said in a statement that the districts of Panyu, Liwan, Tianhe, Conghua and Huadu had lifted the anti-pandemic restrictions, while Haizhu – the neighborhood worst affected by the coronavirus – will “in principle” allow some of the close contacts of the infected to isolate themselves at home instead of special quarantine centers.
On Tuesday night, several people clashed with anti-riot police in PPE suits, as seen in videos circulated on social media, amid nationwide protests and discontent among the Chinese people against the zero-Covid policy.
In a video uploaded on Twitter – which is banned in China – dozens of police officers could be seen advancing in riot formation over barricades erected by protesters.
Another footage showed protesters throwing glass bottles against the officers, while in a separate video teargas cannister could be seen dropping on a street as people tried to escape.
Images also showed police taking away protesters.
Although it is not clear what triggered the clashes, witness accounts on social networks said that they began due to a dispute over restrictions imposed in the city, home to 15 million people who have been especially affected by fresh Covid outbreaks that have resulted in record infection figures.
Thousands of daily infections in Guangzhou in recent months have resulted in several districts being locked down, leading to resident rebelling against the norms.
Many of the people in confinement are immigrants from rural areas who have to seek refuge unexpectedly.
The widespread discontent in China was visible last weekend when protests broke out in cities such as Beijing and Shanghai against anti-Covid restrictions, with protesters holding up blank pages of paper to show their opposition to censorship.
Without directly referring to the protests, the Communist Party of China leadership said on Tuesday that it would “resolutely crack down on infiltration and sabotage activities by hostile forces.”
Meanwhile, China’s daily Covid caseload dropped on Wednesday after rising for five days straight, with 37,828 new cases being detected on Tuesday, out of which 33,540 were asymptomatic.
Although the infection figures are lower than other countries, the strict zero-Covid policy has triggered discontent due to its stringent measures such as institutional quarantine, border controls, mass PCR-testing campaigns and general lockdowns.
The policy, in place since 2020 despite signs of general frustration, has also deaccelerated economic growth, disrupted supply chains and generated volatility in financial markets.
However, the government insists that the strategy has saved millions of life, and without it the hospital system may have collapsed and deaths surged. EFE