China's Covid cases hit record as dissent grows over tough restrictions

Beijing CNN —China on Thursday reported a record number of daily Covid infections, as a nationwide surge in cases heaps pressure on the country’s increasingly unpopular zero-tolerance approach to the virus.
The National Health Commission (NHC) recorded 31,444 locally transmitted cases on Wednesday – surpassing the previous peak of 29,317 recorded April 13 during Shanghai’s months-long lockdown.
Meanwhile, a trickle of Covid-related fatalities has added further pressure to the mix.
Beijing on Wednesday recorded its fourth Covid-related death since last weekend, alongside 1,648 local infections – its third consecutive day of more than 1,000 local cases.
On Thursday, city officials said they were converting a major exhibition center into a makeshift hospital for the quarantine and treatment of Covid patients.
That was just the latest sign of the capital ratcheting up Covid controls.
It discouraged unnecessary mass testing and overly zealous classification of restricted “high risk” areas, scrapped quarantine requirements for secondary close contacts, and reduced quarantine for close contacts and international arrivals.
Following the announcement, several Chinese cities canceled mass Covid tests, but there remains a dizzying array of restrictions for residents to navigate – especially when outbreaks occur.
Signs that people have had enough are becoming increasingly dramatic and rare protests have broken out in a country where authorities traditionally clamp down on any signs of dissent.
Protests erupted this week at the world’s biggest iPhone assembly factory, in the city of Zhengzhou.
Videos on social media showed workers confronting riot police after authorities attempted to lock down the facility following an outbreak.
It comes a week after some residents in the southern manufacturing hub of Guangzhou revolted against an extended lockdown by tearing down barriers and marching down streets.