China Reports Record Number of COVID Cases With More Than 80 Million Locked Down

China Reports Record Number of COVID Cases With More Than 80 Million Locked Down
Workers build isolation wards in a temporary hospital for covid-19 patients inside an exhibition centre in Changchun, China in Jilin province on March 14, 2022. (Photo: FeatureChina, AP)

China reported 5,370 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, according to the country’s National Health Commission, the biggest one-day increase of the entire pandemic. The high case count comes as the province of Jilin and its 24 million people were placed into lockdown on Monday, with millions more in China under harsh restrictions.

China reported 3,602 of the new cases on Tuesday were symptomatic for COVID-19, with 1,768 asymptomatic. Historically, China has regarded asymptomatic cases as not “real” cases of COVID-19, despite the fact that people who aren’t showing symptoms can still transmit the disease. And while those case numbers are still tiny when compared to China’s massive population of 1.4 billion, everyone who’s lived through this pandemic knows how quickly the virus can spread.

The Chinese cities of Shenzhen (17.5 million), Langfang (5 million), and Dongguan (65 million) are currently in lockdown with strict rules about leaving only leaving your home for essential reasons. Shanghai (26 million) and Xian (13 million) also have some version of covid restrictions in place, meaning that many restaurants and theatres are closed.

Shenzhen, known as China’s Silicon Valley and home to major tech operations like Foxconn, is scheduled to be in lockdown until at least March 20, and it’s not clear how long Beijing will pursue a “COVID zero” strategy of completely eliminating the virus. China’s draconian lockdowns and mass testing were able to largely eliminate the coronavirus over the past two years, but the more-transmissible omicron variant is proving much harder to crush.

Many westerners have questioned whether China’s COVID-19 numbers were authentic over the past two years, often suggesting that Beijing was hiding a massive case load and death toll. But it should be clear now that China’s COVID-19 success was real, even if it was admittedly a direct result of incredibly harsh lockdowns.

Mainland China has reported just 120,504 cases and 4,636 deaths since the pandemic began, but it’s not clear how much longer those low tallies will hold, especially as the most common vaccines in China have shown to be less effective than many in the U.S. and other western countries.

China has successfully vaccinated 88.3% of its population, according to the Johns Hopkins University coronavirus tracker, making it the 6th best for COVID-19 vaccinations in the world. For comparison, the U.S. has vaccinated just 66% of its population giving it a ranking of 60th in the world, right behind Samoa, Lithuania, and Mongolia.

The U.S. reported 52,694 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, and 1,478 new deaths, though just 40 of the 50 states reported their COVID numbers for the day. The U.S. has reported 79.5 million COVID-19 cases and over 964,000 deaths since the pandemic began.