- Fujian reports 152 local confirmed cases since September 10
- Parts of China advise against non-essential travel
- State media warn of blanket orders to stay put
BEIJING, Sept. 15 (Reuters) – China’s COVID-19 outbreak in Fujian province, which has reported 152 local cases in five days, has prompted cities in other parts of the country to issue travel warnings ahead summer vacation, though state media warn of towering travel curbs on the cover.
Travel warnings precede the week-long National Day vacation starting October 1, a major tourist season, as well as a shorter Mid-Autumn Festival vacation next week.
The latest outbreak in July-August, which saw strict movement restrictions in some cities, hit the tourism, hospitality and transportation sectors and significantly slowed growth in retail sales. Read more
Even though all new local cases in China since September 10 have only been reported in southeastern Fujian Province, Jilin City in the northeast, as well as Maoming and Guangzhou in the south, have not recommended for people to travel non-essential outside their provinces. The provinces of Shanxi and Heilongjiang have also issued similar opinions.
The towns of Chifeng and Hohhot in the northern Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region advised residents to stay put during the holidays, while Xian in Shaanxi province told residents to avoid leaving the town for unnecessary reasons.
But state tabloid Global Times said in an editorial Wednesday that local officials should not casually advocate general orders to stay put or turn such a plea into a demand.
“We need to gradually improve the precise efficiency of our dynamic zero-case route,” the newspaper said.
“We need to avoid a full scale shutdown. We must strive to detect every epidemic early. We also need to make sure that we can contain it faster so that it does less harm to society. “
Julian Evans-Pritchard, senior Chinese economist at Capital Economics, said China’s services sector is expected to rebound strongly from August, but efforts to contain the outbreak in Fujian could disrupt the upcoming holiday, a key time for the consumption.
He also warned of the risk of further disruption to supply chains, with Fujian being a major trade hub.
The National Health Commission said on Wednesday that 50 new locally transmitted cases had been reported for September 14, up from 59 infections a day earlier. They were all in Fujian.
This brings the total number of local infections to 152 in Fujian’s three cities, Putian, where the epidemic started, Xiamen and Quanzhou.
About 30,000 people traveled from Putian to other provinces from August 26 to September 10, state television reported Monday citing estimates from health officials, raising concerns of contagion.
Zeng Shidian, director of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Wenzhou, in northern Fujian’s Zhejiang Province, told local media that there is a “high” risk that the city will see imported cases of Putian and other parts of Fujian due to the movement of people and goods.
Wenzhou urges its residents not to travel to Fujian during the next vacation. The city said on Tuesday it would shut down indoor entertainment venues for half a month.
As of September 14, mainland China had registered 95,413 confirmed cases.
Reportage de Ryan Woo, Roxanne Liu, Stella Qiu et Liangping Gao; Montage par Christian Schmollinger et Michael Perry
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