News ID: 319027
Published: 0249 GMT December 28, 2021

China expands lockdowns as virus surges in US, Europe

China expands lockdowns as virus surges in US, Europe

China put hundreds of thousands more people under lockdown Tuesday to try and stamp out a worsening coronavirus outbreak, as infections hit new highs in multiple US states and Europe.

COVID surges have wreaked havoc around the world, with many nations in Europe and North America trying to strike a balance between economically punishing restrictions and controlling the spread of the virus, AFP reported.

The United States halved the isolation period for asymptomatic cases to try and blunt the disruptions, while France ordered firms to have employees work from home for at least three days a week.

Despite facing a much smaller outbreak compared with global virus hotspots, China has not relaxed its "zero COVID" strategy, imposing stay-at-home orders in many parts of the city of Yan'an.

The hundreds of thousands of affected residents there joined the 13 million people in the city of Xi'an, who entered a sixth day of home confinement on Tuesday as China battled its highest daily case numbers in 21 months.

This lockdown is the most sweeping in China since the similarly-sized city Wuhan was cut off from the world in the early days of the pandemic.

The surges in many countries have been propelled by the highly transmissible Omicron virus variant, hammering vulnerable sectors such as travel.

Some 11,500 flights have been scrapped worldwide since Friday, and tens of thousands more delayed, during one of the year's busiest travel periods.

Multiple airlines have blamed staffing shortages caused by spikes of Omicron cases.

The surge in the United States has been fuelled by the Omicron variant, as well as large pockets of unvaccinated residents and a lack of access to quick and easy testing.

Governments worldwide are scrambling to boost vaccinations, stressing that the overwhelming majority of COVID-19 hospitalisations and deaths are occurring among the unvaccinated.

Many nations have also been forced to bring back unpopular and economically painful restrictions.




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