China's COVID cases spike to record high; lockdowns ordered in major cities

People take a PCR test for COVID-19 on the street in Shanghai, China, on Nov. 3. File Photo by Alex Plavevski/EPA-EFE
People take a PCR test for COVID-19 on the street in Shanghai, China, on Nov. 3. File Photo by Alex Plavevski/EPA-EFE

Nov. 24 (UPI) -- The number of COVID-19 cases in China spiked to a record high on Thursday as officials ordered lockdown measures in major cities, including Zhengzhou, where protests were staged at an iPhone factory.

Officials in Zhengzhou said in a statement there were 813 new positive cases on Tuesday while describing the pandemic situation as "still severe and complicated."


"Faced with the characteristics of fast transmission, strong infectivity, and strong concealment of the Omicron mutant strain, coupled with the ever-increasing flow of people and logistics, the city's epidemic prevention and control work has reached the most strenuous and critical juncture," officials said.

The city imposed new lockdown measures including mandatory daily screenings for the virus in the main urban area of the city from Friday through Wednesday. Residents in high-risk areas are ordered to stay at home and not to leave "unless necessary."

"If they really need to leave, the community to which they live will issue a certificate, holding a green health code, and nucleic acid within 24 hours. A negative test proves travel," officials said.

Those returning to Zhengzhou from other regions will be required to provide their travel itinerary and a negative COVID test within 24 hours, and abide by regulations after their arrival.


Workers at Apple supplier Foxconn were beaten by police for protesting COVID restrictions and a lack of pay, according to the BBC. Videos circulating online showed employees clashing with police and guards wearing hazmat suits.

The company said in a statement that the pay problems were caused by a technical error in the hiring process for new employees at the plant.

Foxconn, a Taiwanese company, has been operating on a "closed loop" for the past month, meaning that workers cannot leave the facility. The factory employs more than 200,000 people.

China's National Health Commission said in a statement the country registered 31,444 local infections on Wednesday, including 27,517 who are asymptomatic -- passing the previous peak in mid-April when more than 29,000 infections were reported nationwide.

The country's zero-tolerance policies for COVID have kept China's number of cases extremely low compared to other countries throughout the pandemic.

In the United States, where restrictions have long been lifted, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows there were 280,711cases for the week ending on Nov. 16,

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