CORONAVIRUS

China tightens restrictions and tests millions of people in Wuhan as covid-19 Delta variant spreads

After new instances of infections Chinese authorities have implemented the toughest measures since the initial outbreak with both domestic and international travel restricted.

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China tightens restrictions and tests millions of people in Wuhan as covid-19 Delta variant spreads
ROMAN PILIPEY EFE

China is in the midst of a new outbreak of covid-19 with the first cases of the more contagious Delta variant now identified in a number of major cities. Having initially managed to suppress the virus with a spate of tough lockdowns in early 2020, the country has now reported more than 300 cases in the last 10 days.

China’s top respiratory disease specialist has expressed his concern that the more transmissible variant appears to have broken through into the country and the government has responded with strict new travel restrictions and will be conducting blanket covid-19 testing in affected areas.

Chinese authorities report that the country has administered more than 1.6 billion doses of covid-19 vaccines so far, but it is not known how many citizens are fully vaccinated.

Wuhan to conduct tests on all 13 million residents

The Chinese city of Wuhan shot to international attention in the spring of 2020 when it was identified as the likely source of the coronavirus disease. At the time local authorities were largely able to stem the spread with total lockdowns, but the city has recently reported its first cases of the Delta variant.

This spate of cases represents the first confirmed instances of covid-19 since mid-May last year and extreme measures are being introduced to prevent it spreading. Authorities will test all 12 million Wuhan residents in the coming days, it was announced in a local news briefing.

Wuhan official Li Qiang confirmed: “To ensure that everyone in the city is safe, city-wide nucleic acid testing will be quickly launched for all people to fully screen out positive results and asymptomatic infections.”

Parts of the city’s industrial and technological districts have also been entirely sealed off to prevent infection in crucial sectors, bringing back memories of the tough lockdown introduced last year.

China imposes new travel restrictions to prevent further outbreaks

This is thought to be the largest breakthrough in over a year in China with 14 of the country’s 32 provinces having now reported cases. Although the size of the outbreak is considerably less than other major nations are experiencing, the Chinese government is eager to crack down on the infections.

Authorities have imposed domestic travel restrictions, with suspensions on all inter-city coach and taxi services in the 144 medium- and high-risk areas. Similar efforts are also being made to reduce cross-border travel with fewer passports being issued for Chinese citizens. Immigration authorities have announced plans to "strictly restrict non-urgent, unnecessary cross-border travel.”