Covid cases reported as students return to campus in Beijing; lockdown in Chengdu extended indefinitely

Beijing is strengthening epidemic control measures as around 230,000 college teachers and students are returning to Beijing for the new semester and Covid-19 cases were detected at the Communications University of China and at the Beijing University of Chemical Technology (BUCT) in Changping county, but authorities said the outbreak was controllable. Xu Hejian, Spokesman for the Beijing municipal government, said people from cities or counties where there are one or more confirmed cases reported in the previous seven days should not come to Beijing and people who have already entered Beijing should not go to crowded places or gatherings for seven days.

Shanghai’s annual Lujiazui financial forum has been postponed the day before it was scheduled to start after one new Covid-19 infection was detected for the first time in a week. The forum could still be held later this year. The forum, started in 2009 to help transform Shanghai into a global financial center, is co-hosted by the city government, the People’s Bank of China (PBOC), the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission (CBIRC) and the China Securities Association. Guo Shuqing, Chairman of the CBIRC, and Gong Zheng, Shanghai’s Mayor, were slated to co-chair this year’s forum, with the main theme of using financial resources to stabilize economic growth.

Meanwhile, large parts of Chengdu, capital of Sichuan province remain in a lockdown imposed on September 1. New cases have this month been reported in 29 provincial-level areas.

Authorities in Shenzhen temporarily reduced the city’s daily quarantine quota for Hong Kong arrivals to 1,000, as Shenzhen needed to mobilize more resources to contain Covid-19 cases in the city. Under the mainland’s “7+3” entry regime, travelers to Shenzhen from Hong Kong must obtain a valid booking for seven days at a quarantine facility, before undergoing three days of isolation at either their home, a community isolation center or a hotel. The daily quota would be restored to 2,000 once the epidemic situation in Shenzhen was under control.

Some observers are speculating that China could relax its strict zero-Covid policy as President Xi Jinping is to make his first trip abroad since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in December 2019, besides a trip to Myanmar in January 2020. Xi will visit Kazakhstan and then travel on to Uzbekistan for a Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit. Li Zhanshu, No 3 in the Communist Party and Chairman of the National People's Congress (NPC), also traveled abroad last week, visiting Russia. Their trips might indicate that Chinese leaders are now more confident traveling abroad.

This overview is based on reports by the China Daily, Shanghai Daily, Global Times and South China Morning Post.