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By Martin Quin Pollard and Liz Lee

BEIJING (Reuters) – Frustration was high on Friday among residents and business groups in China after the announcement of tighter control restrictions against Covid-19, as the country recorded another record of daily infections just weeks later. raising expectations of easing measures.

The resurgence of Covid-19 cases in China, with 32,695 new local infections reported on Thursday as several cities report outbreaks, has triggered widespread lockdowns and other restrictions on movement and business.

China’s response to Covid-19 is increasingly impacting the world’s second-largest economy, and on Friday the Chinese central bank announced a widely anticipated support measure, reducing the amount of money that banks must hold as reserves. . That frees up 500 billion yuan ($69.8 billion) in long-term liquidity.

The French Chamber of Commerce in China urged authorities to properly implement the Covid-19 “optimization” measures announced two weeks ago, in a statement widely shared on social media after the French embassy posted it on its Weibo account on Thursday. -fair.

The 20 measures, which include shorter quarantines and other more targeted measures, “gave hope” to French companies for more bilateral trade and economic exchanges, but “good policies also need to be implemented uniformly and without adding layers of other political contradictions” , said the statement from the chamber.

China defends President Xi Jinping’s Covid-zero policy as necessary to avoid overloading the health system.

Many analysts expect significant easing of coronavirus restrictions only from March or April at the earliest, with some experts warning that China must significantly increase vaccinations and change its communication in a country where Covid-19 fears are high.

At the world’s largest iPhone factory in the city of Zhengzhou, more than 20,000 new workers have left the site after the Covid-19-related worker unrest this week, further jeopardizing production at Apple’s Foxconn factory, it said. to Reuters.

While the April outbreak was concentrated in Shanghai, clusters of cases this time around are numerous and more scattered.

Guangzhou in the south and Chongqing in the southwest have seen the most cases, while cities including Chengdu, Jinan, Lanzhou, Xi’an and Wuhan have reported hundreds of new infections daily. Beijing reported 1,860 cases on Thursday.

(Reporting by Martin Quin Pollard, Shanghai and Beijing newsrooms; Additional reporting by Kevin Buckland in Tokyo)

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