As protests emerged in China over the death of a 3-year-old boy while in lockdown, Chinese officials reported COVID-19 cases in the country are the highest they’ve been in two and a half months. China reported 3,200 daily local COVID-19 cases on Thursday, the first tally above 3,000 since Aug. 17.
Hong Kong and China stocks fell, ending a two-day rally. Confidence was hit by the rising COVID-19 count and the Federal Reserve’s latest raising of U.S. interest rates. Chinese stocks had soared this week on speculation that Beijing would ease its “dynamic zero-COVID” policy.
“There may be some easing on zero-COVID, but temper your expectations,” Nomura analysts wrote. They added that a “real reopening” becomes more likely only after March, when China completes a political transition culminating with its annual parliamentary gathering.
The rise in cases comes amid a new wave of outrage at the zero-COVID policy. That wave, triggered by the death of a 3-year-old boy following a suspected gas leak at a residential compound under COVID-19 lockdown in northwestern China.
The boy’s father claimed in a social media post that COVID-19 workers tried to prevent him from leaving their compound to seek treatment for his child. The father said this caused a delay he believes proved fatal.
“My child might have been saved if he had been taken to the hospital sooner,” he wrote.
The post was met with an outpouring of public anger and grief. Several related hashtags racked up hundreds of millions of views over the following day on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like platform.
“Three years of pandemic was his entire life,” a popular comment read.