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China blocks more than 22 million people in a new Covid wave

Chinese officials took action this month when a small number of new coronavirus cases occurred in the states around Beijing (apparently widespread at a village wedding reception).

They blocked two cities, Shijiazhuang and Xingtai, with more than 17 million people. They ordered a crash test system for almost every resident there, which was completed in a few days.

They closed transportation and canceled weddings, funerals, and most importantly, the state’s Communist Party meeting.

By this week, the blockade had expanded to include another city on the edge of Beijing, Langfang, and a county in Heilongjiang Province in the northeast. The district of Beijing itself, the capital of China, has also been closed.

A total of more than 22 million people were ordered to stay in the house. That’s twice the number affected when China’s central government blocked Wuhan, the central city where the virus was first reported, last January.

Flare-ups remain small compared to the devastation faced by other nations, but could undermine the Communist Party’s success in quelling the virus, and the slump last year and the return of the public to the economy Allows you to soar into normal life.

The urgency of the government’s current response is in contrast to that of last year’s Wuhan officials, who feared a backlash if they revealed a mysterious new illness that would emerge. Local officials there were proceeding with a Communist Party meeting that seems to be currently canceled in Hebei, even though they knew the danger of spreading the disease among the people.

Since Wuhan, authorities have created a playbook that mobilizes party leaders to respond quickly to new outbreaks by blocking neighborhoods, conducting extensive testing, and isolating large groups as needed. Did.

“One of the key points in the process of preventing and managing infectious diseases is to seek the truth from the facts, openly and transparently disclose epidemic information, and never allow concealment or underreporting,” China said. Said Li Keqiang, the prime minister of the country. Friday’s meeting of the State Council, the Chinese cabinet.

China, a country of 1.4 billion people, reports an average of 109 new cases a day in the past week, according to the New York Times database. These are welcome numbers in much worse countries (including the United States, which has an average of more than 250,000 new cases per day), but the worst in China since last summer.

China’s National Health Commission has not reported any new deaths, but the World Health Organization, which uses information from China, has so far recorded 12 deaths in 2021. The National Health Commission did not respond to the request to explain the contradiction.

In Hebei Province, where new outbreaks are concentrated, officials last week declared a “wartime state” with no immediate signs of lifting.

Throughout the pandemic, officials appeared to be particularly worried about Beijing, home of the Communist Party’s central leadership. Last week, Hebei Province secretary Wang Dongfeng promised to confirm that the state was “a moat to protect Beijing’s political security.”

Outbreaks have occurred in minimal cases for a very long time, raising anxiety throughout China. In China, residents in most places felt that the pandemic was a thing of the past.

New cases have also been reported in northern Shanxi and northeastern Heilongjiang and Jilin. Shanghai urged residents to stay in the city on Wednesday, announcing that those traveling to dangerous areas should be quarantined at home for two weeks and only leave after passing two tests, but most Those who have traveled to dangerous areas are government facilities.

In Wuhan, rumors swirled that the city could face a new blockade. Although they appeared unfounded, authorities significantly strengthened temperature checks on some streets.

In Shunyi District, northeastern Beijing, including Beijing Capital International Airport and rural areas, residents have been ordered to stay inside since the surge in incidents just before the New Year. At Beijing’s main railway station, workers sprayed disinfectants on public spaces.

Authorities tracked 144 passengers for additional testing after taxi drivers tested positive over the weekend in Beijing, according to the state’s tabloid Global Times. Currently, anyone who rides a taxi or car service in Beijing needs to scan a QR code from the phone, allowing the government to quickly track them.

The government has planned to vaccinate 50 million people prior to the Chinese New Year next month. Chinese New Year is traditionally a holiday where hundreds of millions of people travel across the country to visit their families. By Wednesday, more than 10 million doses had been distributed.

Even if vaccinated, authorities have already warned people not to travel before vacation.

“If these measures are taken properly, we can guarantee that no major epidemic rebounds will occur,” Feng Zijian, deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in a briefing in Beijing Wednesday. ..

The new restrictions have inconvenienced millions of people, but there seems to be no significant public resistance to them.

“As far as I’m concerned, I think measures like the blockade of the entire city are actually pretty good,” said Zhao Masau, a Beijing college student currently trapped in the parents’ home of Shijiazhuang she was visiting. Winter vacation when the outbreak broke out there.

Many in the city were afraid of repeated blockades of Wuhan, but she didn’t seem to be upset.

Zhao’s parents are currently working from home and receive groceries only from the residential market. She lamented that she couldn’t meet her friends or study in the library, but said learning online was becoming more commonplace.

“Maybe we’re used to it,” she said.

The response emphasized how quickly the government could mobilize its resources to contain the outbreak.

After the blockade was announced at Shijiazhuang on January 6, authorities collected over 10 million coronavirus test samples over the next three days. This is almost one for each resident, officials said at a press conference in the city. Although some cases were asymptomatic, these tests gave 354 positive results.

The second high-volume nucleic acid test began on Tuesday.

“In effect, this is a kind of wartime system that uses wartime means for peacetime social control. During the pandemic, this wartime system works,” said a former newspaper writer under the pseudonym Xiao. Editor Chen Min said. Shu. Mr Chen was in Wuhan last year when the city was closed.

The nature of national governance has given it a tool to tackle the epidemic, even if some measures seem to be pointing up.

“Chinese cities have housing systems. Hundreds of people live in small cities and tens of thousands in large cities. You can lock in tens of thousands by closing the gate.” Chen said in a telephone interview. “Now, whenever they encounter this kind of problem, they always apply this method. That would not be possible in the Western world.”

Chris Buckley and Keith Bradshire contributed to the report. Claire Fu contributed to the research.

China blocks more than 22 million people in a new Covid wave

Source link China blocks more than 22 million people in a new Covid wave

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