Widespread Covid-19 outbreaks in China lead to major closures 

Highways around Beijing have been shut, some city districts are now in a ‘wartime state’ and rail and air travel has been restricted as coronavirus cases surge again across the country 

Widespread Covid-19 outbreaks in China lead to major closures 
The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection and State Supervision says the Covid situation “is tight again”.  

(ATF) Covid-19 cases are rapidly increasing across China, as the country also deals with an unprecedented cold snap, coal shortages and strong winds.

The north of the country is particularly affected with highways surrounding Beijing closed to traffic, affecting deliveries to the nation’s numerous provinces. The major city of Dalian has been under full lockdown since December and e-commerce sites have announced they will not deliver to affected areas.

The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection and State Supervision has reported that the domestic epidemic prevention and control situation “is tight again”.

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Overt the four days up to Tuesday, officials reported that Hebei province had a total of 117 new cases of new coronavirus infections, including 39 newly confirmed cases and 78 new asymptomatic infections. Currently, Gaocheng District in Shijiazhuang City has been adjusted to a high-risk area.

According to the official statement, outside Hebei sporadic cases have also occurred in many places across China. The Shunyi District of Beijing has entered a wartime state, “super-spreading” has occurred in Dalian and confirmed patients infected with the new variant strain have been found in Shanghai, Guangdong, Shandong and other places.

The Hebei epidemic is still in the “developing stage” but the prevention and control situation is severe, said Ma Xiaowei, a director of the National Health Commission.

On Wednesday, Meng Xianghong, deputy mayor of the Shijiazhuang Municipal People’s Government, reported that from January 2 to 5, a total of 33 confirmed cases of new coronary pneumonia and 81 asymptomatic infections were reported in the city. 

A large number of new confirmed cases have been concentrated in a short period of time and up until recently figures were down to one daily case per province – remarkable for a country with such a large population.

'WARTIME STATE'

Hebei Province activated its emergency response mechanism on Tuesday and had entered a ‘wartime state'. Nucleic acid testing for all employees in Shijiazhuang City, closed-loop management and control in rural communities and rapid measures were being used to control the epidemic.

As of Wednesday, the Shi'an section of the Hebei-Beijing Hong Kong-Macao Expressway, the Shijiazhuang section of the Jingkun Expressway and the Shijiazhuang section of the Beijing-Kunming Expressway were subject to traffic controls. 

In terms of train and airplane travel, passengers entering Shijiazhuang Railway Station and Shijiazhuang Airport must have had a negative Covid-19 test within the last 72 hours to board.

The Civil Affairs Department of Hebei Province has also issued a notice about weddings, emphasising compliance with epidemic prevention and control requirements, guiding wedding organisers not to hold banquets and not to invite relatives and friends from elsewhere to attend the wedding. The official advice is to postpone weddings or hold small-scale events that are limited to family members. 

According to Feng Zijian, deputy director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Health Commission has sent an expert steering group and an epidemic prevention and control steering group to Shijiazhuang and Xingtai to guide the epidemic situation and make a risk assessment.

VIRUS TRANSMISSION

Wu Hao, an expert from the National Health Commission’s Disease Prevention and Control Advisory Committee and director of the Beijing Fangzhuang Community Health Service Center, pointed out that the risk of virus transmission in rural areas, where medical conditions are relatively poor, is greater.

Wu Hao said: “Most rural migrant workers are engaged in the service industry, and they may also be engaged in cold chain transportation. Once they come into contact with dangerous objects imported from abroad, they may send the virus home in the form of express parcels. 

“In addition, returning to the village an asymptomatic infected person may also spread the virus."

Gene sequencing results of the new coronavirus in Xingtai, in Hebei province, show that the spread of the virus is highly similar to a European variant. 

Government advice is to avoid gatherings during the Spring Festival which is in mid-February this year. Annually, the Chinese New Year sees the largest migration of human beings on the planet as workers return home to see family.

The State Council's Joint Prevention and Control Mechanism Team recently issued a notice asking migrant workers and others to stay at construction or work sites for the New Year.

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Covid-19 Coronavirus Hebei Dalian Shijiazhuang