BEIJING (AP) — Nearly 500 students from China’s First College for Broadcast Journalists have been sent to a quarantine center after a handful of COVID-19 cases were detected in their dormitory.
The 488 students of the Communication University of China, along with 19 teachers and five assistants, were transferred by bus from Friday evening.
Quarantining anyone deemed to have been in contact with someone who tested positive for the virus has been a mainstay of China’s strict “zero-COVID” policy. Quarantine centers include field hospitals as well as converted stadiums and exhibition centers which have been criticized for overcrowding, poor hygiene and spoiled food.
As of last week, around 65 million Chinese residents were under control despite only 1,248 new cases of domestic transmission reported on Sunday. Most of them were asymptomatic.
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The shutdowns have sparked online protests and clashes with health workers and police, and taken a heavy toll on the economy, affecting global supply chains for electronics and other goods. A week-long lockdown in China’s biggest city, Shanghai, over the summer has prompted an exodus of migrant workers and foreign businessmen.
With the release of economic data this week, analysts will seek to understand how China’s handling of the pandemic is affecting economic activity in the world’s second-largest economy. The confinements have been accompanied by almost daily tests, travel restrictions and the suspension of classes at all levels.
China has continued the relentless enforcement of the policy, even as virtually every other country has sought to return to normal life with vaccines and drugs to fight the virus.
“Zero COVID” is closely associated with President and Communist Party leader Xi Jinping, leading to accusations that the government has politicized a public health crisis. His administration rejected statements by the World Health Organization that the policy is unsustainable and refused to approve foreign vaccines that are widely considered more effective than those produced by Chinese companies.
Xi, who has not traveled abroad since the pandemic began in early 2020, has taken control of all the levers of power and set a confrontational tone for foreign policy, while sidelining or imprisoning his rivals. He has eliminated term limits for the presidency and is set to receive a third five-year term as communist leader at the party’s congress next month.
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