China has stepped up its COVID restrictions and lockdowns as its daily infection figures hit an all-time high.

On Wednesday, it recorded 31,444 new COVID-19[feminine] cases – surpassing the previous peak in April when Shanghai was in a citywide lockdown that would last two months.

It is also the highest daily figure since the virus was first detected in the central Chinese city. Wuhan end of 2019.

The new crackdown comes as its zero COVID policy continues to spark protests – including in the central city of Zhengzhou, China, where there have been Clashes at a huge Foxconn factory making iPhones.

Not even a promise of a major bonus increase has stemmed the exodus of workers from the site, frustrated by covid curbs.

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Protests at China’s iPhone factory

Apple said it has staff at the plant and “works closely with Foxconn to ensure their employees’ concerns are addressed.”

In rare scenes of open dissent ChinaProtests have erupted across the country as the number and severity of outbreaks grow.

Authorities in Zhengzhou announced a five-day lockdown that included mass testing in eight of its districts, the latest city to restart daily testing for millions of people.

Its 6.6 million residents have been ordered to stay home except to buy food and medicine.

beijing residents were informed that they must prove they are COVID-negative enter any public building after an increase in cases.

Officials in the Chinese capital said evidence of a negative coronavirus testing within the previous 48 hours is now mandatory to enter malls, hotels, government buildings and factories.

Restrictions have also been tightened in the port city of Guangzhou and Shijiazhuang in northern China.

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An angry Chinese overturned car during a protest against COVID

Beijing, along with several other cities, had pledged to ease tough lockdown restrictions earlier this month.

But with China’s top three COVID-related deaths in six months reported this week – bringing the total to 5,232, and cases continue to rise as tougher measures are being reintroduced.

The number of COVID-19 cases in the country has remained low by global standards, and some believe the tough pandemic-related restrictions are holding back the world’s second-largest economy and increasingly out of sync with the rest of the world.

But Chinese leaders have stuck to their strategy, which includes some of the toughest restrictions in the world, saying it is necessary to save lives and prevent the medical system from being overwhelmed.

A security guard in protective gear monitors an entrance gate to a neighborhood in Beijing.  Photo: AP
A security guard in protective gear monitors an entrance gate to a neighborhood in Beijing. Photo: AP

Read more:
Beijing is essentially in lockdown but authorities won’t use that word
No respite in China’s COVID zero stance

The rigid zero-COVID policy has seen millions of residents confined to their homes, subjected to mass testing programs and enduring sudden closures – in areas where positive cases of coronavirus or their close contacts have been detected.

In August, authorities attempted to block shoppers from leaving an Ikea store in Xuhui district in Shanghai after it was discovered that a customer had been in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID.

Last month the Shanghai Disney Resort became the latest major venue to close – locking all visitors in and not allowing them to leave until hours later after testing negative for the virus.

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