BEIJING (AP) – China has suspended flights and trains, canceled professional basketball league games and announced mass coronavirus testing in Wuhan on Tuesday as widening delta variant outbreaks reached the city where the disease was first detected at the end of 2019.
Although the total number of cases still numbers in the hundreds, they are far more widespread than anything China has dealt with since the initial outbreak that devastated Wuhan in early 2020 and has spread over time to the rest. of the country and the world.
China has not eliminated but largely curbed COVID-19 at home with rapid locks and mass testing to isolate those infected whenever new cases emerge. Most of the previous epidemics did not spread far beyond a city or province. This time, cases have been confirmed in more than 35 cities in 17 of China’s 33 provinces and regions.
The cities of Nanjing and Yangzhou have canceled all domestic flights, and Beijing has cut long-distance trains from 23 stations. The China Basketball Association has said its men’s professional league games will be suspended due to the pandemic.
Wuhan, a provincial capital of 11 million people in central China, is the latest city to undergo city-wide testing. Three cases were confirmed there on Monday, its first unimported cases for more than a year.
They were among 90 new cases confirmed nationwide the day before, the National Health Commission said on Tuesday. Of these, 61 were widespread locally and 29 among recent arrivals from abroad.
Most of the local cases are still in Jiangsu Province, where an outbreak started at the airport in Nanjing, the provincial capital, and has spread to other parts of the province and beyond. Authorities reported 45 new cases, five in Nanjing and 40 in Yangzhou City, 105 kilometers (65 miles), where a second round of mass testing was underway.
Five other provinces and the cities of Beijing and Shanghai have reported new single-digit local cases. In Shanghai, the country’s largest city, a driver working at one of its two main airports tested positive. Beijing has reported a total of five cases in recent days.
The Nanjing outbreak, which has been attributed to the delta variant, is the source of cases in most other places. Separately, outbreaks of delta variants in two other locations have been linked to neighboring Myanmar, which has seen a sharp rise in infections.
An outbreak in Zhengzhou, a city affected by flooding that killed around 300 people last month, began with people arriving from Myanmar by air. A third outbreak, the one that started earlier, has spread to Yunnan province from its border with Myanmar.
Scientists affiliated with the government have said that Chinese vaccines are less effective against newer strains of the coronavirus but still offer some protection. Only Chinese vaccines are currently being administered in China, where authorities say more than 1.6 billion doses have been administered.