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By Liz Lee and Martin Quin Pollard

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s capital warned on Monday it was facing its severest test of the COVID-19 pandemic, shuttering businesses and schools in hard-hit districts and tightening rules for entering the city as infections surged. in Beijing and nationally.

China is battling multiple outbreaks of Covid-19, from Zhengzhou in central Henan Province to Chongqing in the southwest. The country reported 26,824 new local cases on Sunday, approaching the country’s daily peak of infection in April.

Two deaths were also reported in Beijing, up from one on Saturday, which was the first in China since late May.

Guangzhou, a southern city of nearly 19 million people battling the biggest of China’s recent outbreaks, has ordered a five-day lockdown for Baiyun, its most populous district. It also suspended dinner services and closed nightclubs and theaters in the city’s main business district.

The latest wave is testing China’s resolve to stick with the tweaks it has made to its Covid-zero policy, which urges cities to be more targeted in their containment measures and avoid lockdowns and widespread testing that have strangled the economy and frustrated consumers. residents.

City officials said people arriving in the capital from other parts of China must undergo three days of Covid-19 testing before being allowed to leave their homes or accommodation.

China’s recent efforts to make its Covid-19 restrictions more targeted have raised investor hopes for more significant easing even as China faces its first winter against the highly transmissible Omicron variant.

Many analysts expect that shift to start only in March or April, however, with the government arguing that President Xi Jinping’s Covid-zero policy saves lives and is necessary to prevent the health care system from becoming overwhelmed.

(Reporting from Shanghai, reporting from Beijing)

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