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UPDATE 3-China posts high 6-month COVID numbers as it sticks to strategy

(Updated to include locally transmitted cases)

BEIJING, Nov 6 (Reuters) – China reported its highest number of new COVID-19 infections in six months on Sunday, a day after health officials said they were sticking to strict restrictions against coronavirus, likely disappointing investors’ recent hopes of an easing.

China recorded 4,420 new locally transmitted COVID-19 infections on Saturday, the National Health Commission said, the most since May 6 and up from 3,659 new local cases a day earlier.

While case numbers are extremely low by global standards, China has stuck to a zero-COVID approach nearly three years into the pandemic that involves lockdowns, quarantines, frequent testing and drastic curtailment. inbound trips.

At a press conference on Saturday, health officials reiterated their commitment to the “dynamic cleaning” approach to COVID cases as soon as they emerge.

China’s anti-COVID measures are “completely correct, as well as the most economical and effective”, disease control official Hu Xiang said. “We must adhere to the principle of putting people and lives first, and the broader strategy of preventing imports from outside and internal rebounds.”

Chinese stocks soared last week on rumors of a possible easing of COVID restrictions, and media reports that some policy tweaks may be coming soon.

However, many analysts said they did not expect any significant easing to begin before China’s annual parliamentary session in March.

Goldman Sachs analysts said Saturday’s announcement showed “the government should still maintain its zero COVID policy until all preparations are complete. It may take a few months, in our view,” they said. wrote, saying their “basic” expectation was for a reopening in the April-June term.

The southern city of Guangzhou continued to report an increase in infections, with 66 new symptomatic and 1,259 asymptomatic cases transmitted locally, compared with 111 symptomatic cases and 635 asymptomatic cases the day before, authorities in the city of nearly 19 million said. ‘inhabitants.

The Chinese capital, Beijing, reported 43 symptomatic and six asymptomatic cases, compared to 37 symptomatic cases and five asymptomatic cases the day before.

Still, the annual Beijing Marathon took place on Sunday morning under strict COVID protocols, having been canceled the previous two years.

Some 26,000 participants registered for the event which started under smoggy skies in Tiananmen Square in central Beijing. Runners were required to take PCR tests for three days before the race and not leave Beijing for seven days. (Reporting by Ella Cao and Tony Munroe; Editing by Michael Perry and William Mallard)

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