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Chinese cities break from COVID easing edict as cases smash record

Local authorities under pressure to cut infections dump Beijing's playbook

A virus prevention worker guards the entrance to an office building in Beijing's Central Business District. Parts of the capital are deserted after a COVID lockdown.   © Reuters

HONG KONG -- Cities across China are ignoring a government edict to ease COVID-19 restrictions as they struggle to contain a surge in infections, which smashed a daily case record Thursday.

Beijing this month announced it would relax a controversial zero-COVID strategy, but the rapid spread of highly infectious variants is putting local governments between a rock and a hard place as they scramble to balance those top-down orders against their own efforts to bring down cases while keeping their economies afloat.

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