HONG KONG—Outbreaks of the Covid-19 Delta variant are threatening to slow China’s economic recovery and raising concerns about the costs of the country’s strict coronavirus containment strategy.
After quickly suppressing Covid-19 through mass-scale lockdowns last spring, Chinese authorities are now contending with new outbreaks in at least 17 provinces, according to the country’s National Health Commission. Daily new infections climbed to 143 on Monday, more than double the number from a week earlier, when the country saw its highest daily caseload in half a year.
While those numbers are extraordinarily small compared to the U.S. and other countries, China’s zero-tolerance strategy means authorities are responding with tough measures, including lockdowns of residential compounds and cancellations of public events. Economists say those steps are likely to have a significant impact on China’s growth if they don’t succeed in snuffing out the virus soon.
Last week, Beijing said it will postpone an annual international film festival and canceled several other large-scale events, including exhibitions. The capital on Sunday also suspended planes and trains from places with Covid-19 cases from entering the city.
In Nanjing, where the Delta variant was first detected in late July, the city’s 9.2 million residents went through testing within weeks.