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Cost of China's zero-COVID push stokes growing frustration

Tests, vaccines and quarantines cut into funds for local government employees

A hotel commandeered as a quarantine facility is sealed off in Dalian. (Photo by Shin Watanabe)

DALIAN, China -- China's zero-COVID policy is taking a growing toll on public finances as testing and control costs mount even as revenue shrinks, increasing the burden on already cash-strapped local governments.

Government medical and health spending on the national and local levels totaled 730.3 billion yuan ($110 billion) for the first four months of 2022, up 7.5% from a year earlier and 22% from 2019. The full-year total for 2021 came to 1.92 trillion yuan, equivalent to 1.7% of gross domestic product.

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