Covid eases lockdown amid public anger over China’s Urumqi deadly fires


Chinese officials said on Saturday they would ease a month-long Covid lockdown in the country’s western region. Xinjiang “In phases” following a devastating fire at an apartment building in the regional capital Urumqi.

At least 10 people were killed and nine injured fire The explosion happened Thursday, according to the local fire department, and public anger over the tragedy has grown with the release of video footage that appears to show lockdown measures delaying firefighters from accessing the scene and reaching victims.

A video that circulated widely on Chinese social media on Friday evening showed a large group marching to a government building in Urumqi and chanting “end to the lockdown”, while another showed some residents breaking through lockdown barriers and fighting with authorities.

Dissent over the government has been growing across China in recent weeks Intermittent zero-covid lockdownsOfficials insist this is necessary to protect people’s lives against the virus.

In the central city of Zhengzhou this week, workers of the world Largest iPhone assembly factory Hazmat clashed with relevant security officials over delays in bonus payments and confusing covid rules.

Video thumbnail China industrial conflicts

The video shows workers clashing with police at the world’s largest iPhone assembly factory

On Thursday, in the sprawling city of Chongqing in the southwest, a resident gave birth. Harsh speech He criticized the Covid lockdown in his residential complex. “Without freedom, I will die!” He shouted to the cheering crowd, who hailed him as a “hero” and wrestled him from the clutches of several police officers who tried to take him away.

Urumqi, with a population of more than 4 million, has been under a strict lockdown since August, although its daily Covid infections continue to hover around 100 despite the measures.

Speaking at a press conference on Saturday, local government officials promised to ease lockdown measures in neighborhoods classified as “low risk” by authorities in “phases”.

Residents of these areas are allowed to leave their buildings during staggered periods of the day, but they are not allowed to leave their residential complexes until all compounds in the neighborhood are classified as “low risk” areas.

Chui Rong, campaign chief for Urumqi, said the city has “basically eliminated Covid cases in the community” because of the lockdown measures.

But he did not admit there were any protests, and he did not give any clear timeline for easing the measures or specify how many residents would be able to leave their homes or compounds following the announcement.

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Meanwhile, Beijing hopes to soften its zero-covid approach – after minor relaxations in some quarantine requirements – as China heads into its fourth winter of the pandemic, which is beginning to fade amid a surge in cases.

This week, according to the National Health Commission, the number of Covid cases in the country has reached record levels.

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