China is battling COVID flare-ups from Zhengzhou in central Henan province to Chongqing in the southwest.

China’s Guangzhou has locked down its largest district, while schools across Beijing have switched to online classes as authorities across the country battle numerous COVID-19 flare-ups.

Guangzhou, a southern metropolis home to nearly 19 million people, announced a five-day lockdown for the most populous Baiyun district on Monday, suspending dining services and closing nightclubs and theaters in its main business district.

In Beijing, where authorities reported 962 new infections, students in schools in several districts began studying online after officials urged residents in some of the hardest-hit areas to stay home.

Health authorities in the capital also reported two COVID-19-related deaths after announcing the first death in more than six months the day before. Medical experts outside China are widely skeptical of the country’s official COVID death toll of less than 5,300, given the international experience with the virus, though Beijing’s tight restrictions have kept cases and deaths much lower than elsewhere.

COVID cases are on the rise across China, with flare-ups in regions ranging from Zhengzhou in central Henan province to Chongqing in the southwest.

Chinese health authorities reported 26,824 local cases on Sunday, close to the country’s April peak.

While the rest of the world lives with COVID-19, China is sticking to a strict “zero COVID” strategy that relies on lockdowns, mass testing and border controls to eradicate the virus wherever it emerges.

Despite easing some COVID restrictions, including cutting quarantine for international arrivals from seven to five days, and calling for more targeted measures, Beijing has repeatedly ruled out a fundamental shift from “zero COVID” even as public frustrations with the policy are on the rise.

Asian stock markets and oil prices fell Monday as investors geared up for further economic disruption from rising cases.

On Monday, the People’s Daily, the mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party, published the latest in a series of articles stressing the need to detect cases early and avoid a “one-size-fits-all” response.

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