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December 14, 2021
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China confines half a million people due to Covid-19 outbreak in economic engine

Zhejiang province, an economic engine in China, recorded a COVID-19 outbreak on Tuesday that forced authorities to confine half a million people and shut down businesses in several districts.

Zhejiang, an industrial and export hub on the east coast, reported 44 of 51 direct contagion COVID-19 cases detected on Tuesday, bringing infections to nearly 200 since last week.

Although the number of infections in China is miniscule compared to other major economies, authorities in Zhejiang conducted massive tests and targeted shutdowns to deal with the outbreak as Beijing prepares to host the Winter Olympics in February.

More than 540,000 people were confined in Zhejiang, authorities said.

Chinese media reported on Monday that China detected the first case of the omicron variant of the virus in the northern city of Tianjin.

In recent days, some districts of Ningbo, the main port of Zhejiang, and the neighboring city of Shaoxing said they would also suspend some business operations.

In Zhenhai, a Ningbo district with a large petrochemical base, all companies deemed non-critical had to shut down, and petrochemical producers had to cut production.

Several companies in the provincial capital Hangzhou also announced the suspension of production.

Meanwhile, hundreds of flights from Hangzhou were canceled on Tuesday.

Zhejiang is one of the Chinese provinces with the highest GDP and exports.

“The closure of factories in Zhejiang will impact the supply chain of various sectors, especially fibers and textiles,” Zhaopeng Xing, head of China at ANZ Research, told AFP.

He considered that the impact will be similar to what happened in September and October, when China applied energy rationing to deal with the shortage of electricity.

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