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South Korea posts record Covid deaths as China imposes new port restrictions due to omicron surge

SOUTH Korea reported record Covid deaths today and China tightened restrictions at ports as the omicron variant surges in the Far East.

The 293 deaths in 24 hours reported by Seoul is far lower than the worst daily death tolls reported in Western countries, but the Health Ministry said it expected serious cases to keep rising.

China imposed lockdowns in Shenzhen, which borders Hong Kong where the virus is spreading fast, as well as in the northern manufacturing centre Changchun. 

Travel between cities was restricted and new checks imposed at ports in Shenzhen, Ningbo and the country’s biggest city Shanghai, with limits placed on face to face contact between sailors, dockers and other port workers.

China’s zero-Covid policy has so far involved mass testing and targeted local lockdowns rather than countrywide measures, but economists warned that a wider Covid wave would cause economic havoc worldwide.

“We can think of no risk to the global economy, excluding nuclear warfare, that is greater than the risk of a Covid outbreak in China that shutters industrial production,” High Frequency Economics expert Carl B Weinberg said. “Uncountable manufacturing supply chains pass through China.”

Most smartphones and computers are built in China and shipped out via a handful of giant ports. A one-month slowdown at Shenzhen’s Yantian Port last year caused a backlog of thousands of shipping containers and sent shockwaves through global supply chains.

The number of Covid cases reported in mainland China today more than doubled, to 3,507.

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