China reported more than 31,000 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, a record level that comes as the country maintains its “zero COVID” approach roughly three years into the pandemic.
China on Thursday reported 31,656 new cases over the previous 24 hours, the highest daily figure since the country first detected the virus in Wuhan in late 2019.
The country has continued to implement its strategy of eliminating cases entirely, including aggressive lockdowns and containment measures after most of the rest of the world loosened their pandemic restrictions.
But China’s strategy has also limited those who were exposed to the virus, preventing the buildup of a large natural immunity in the population despite high vaccination levels.
China has reported 9.5 million COVID-19 cases since early 2020, according to the World Health Organization.
As officials look to contain the outbreak, millions of residents have been forced into lockdowns.
Officials told residents in eight districts of Zhengzhou to stay home for five days beginning on Thursday unless they were going out for medical treatment and food.
Meanwhile, videos that surfaced on social media showed workers at a massive iPhone factory in the city this week clashing with police.
Thousands of employees left the factory last month following complaints over unsafe working conditions related to the virus, but Foxconn, which owns the factory, in a statement denied reports that it was placing COVID-positive employees in dormitories at the factory.
This week’s fights apparently broke out over pay disputes among new employees hired to replace those that walked away.
“Regarding any violence, the company will continue to communicate with employees and the government to prevent similar incidents from happening again,” Foxconn said.