HONG KONG — Outbreaks of the Covid-19 Delta variant threaten to slow China’s economic recovery and raise concerns about the costs of the country’s strict coronavirus containment strategy.
After quickly removing Covid-19 through large-scale lockdowns last spring, Chinese authorities are now grappling with new epidemics in at least 17 provinces, according to the country’s National Health Commission. New daily infections jumped to 143 on Monday, more than double the number a week earlier, when the country recorded its highest number of daily cases in six months.
While those numbers are extraordinarily low compared to the United States and other countries, China’s zero tolerance strategy means authorities are responding with strict measures, including locking down residential complexes and canceling public events. Economists say these measures are likely to have a significant impact on China’s growth if they fail to quell the virus quickly.
Beijing last week announced it would postpone an annual international film festival and canceled several other large-scale events, including exhibitions. The capital also suspended planes and trains from places with Covid-19 cases from entering the city on Sunday.
In Nanjing, where the Delta variant was first detected at the end of July, the city’s 9.2 million residents were tested within weeks.