Chinese cities have rolled out mass tests on millions of people and imposed new travel restrictions as health officials on Sunday battled to contain the most widespread coronavirus outbreak in the country for months.
China reported 75 new cases of the coronavirus with 53 local transmissions on Sunday, with a cluster linked to an eastern airport now believed to have spread to more than 20 cities and more than a dozen provinces.
The outbreak is geographically the largest to strike China in several months after the country’s success in largely quelling the pandemic within its borders last year.
That record was compromised after the fast-spreading Delta variant erupted at Nanjing Airport in eastern Jiangsu Province in July.
Authorities have now run three rounds of tests on the city’s 9.2 million residents and detained hundreds of thousands of people, in a bid to curb an outbreak Beijing has blamed on the highly contagious variant of the Delta. and during the high tourist season.
Authorities are now scrambling to track people across the country who have recently traveled from Nanjing or Zhangjiajie, a tourist town in Hunan province that has locked up 1.5 million residents and shut down all tourist attractions.
New cases were reported on Sunday on Hainan Island – another popular tourist destination – as well as in Ningxia and Shandong provinces, authorities said.
The country is also grappling with a distinct increase in cases in the flood-ravaged city of Zhengzhou, Henan province, after two cleaners at a hospital treating coronavirus patients from overseas turned to each other. found to be positive.
27 locally transmitted cases were detected, the authorities having ordered Sunday mass tests on the 10 million inhabitants. The head of the city’s health commission was also sacked.
And after reports that some sick people in the latter group were vaccinated, health officials said it was “normal” and stressed the importance of vaccination alongside strict measures.
“The protection of the Covid vaccine against the Delta variant may have diminished somewhat, but the current vaccine still has a good preventive and protective effect against the Delta variant,” said Feng Zijian, virologist at the China Center for Control and Prevention diseases.
More than 1.6 billion doses of the vaccine were administered nationwide as of Friday, the Beijing National Health Commission (NHC) said. It does not provide figures on the number of people fully vaccinated.
© 2021 AFP