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China demands home quarantine for domestic new year travel

Beijing, Jan 21 (efe-epa).- China will require negative coronavirus tests and home quarantines for those who want to return to rural areas during the lunar new year holiday period between Feb. 11 and Feb. 17, to stop the outbreaks of COVID-19 that plague the country.

The National Health Commission took the measure, applicable from Jan. 28 to Mar. 8, due to concerns about the rapid spread of the virus in the towns of several northeastern provinces and on the eve of hundreds of millions of urban immigrants traveling to their villages.

Official forecasts contemplate up to 1.7 billion trips during the 40 days of the “chunyun” – the world’s largest yearly episode of human migration – , 40 percent less than in 2019 but 10 percent more than in 2020, when it was also affected by the pandemic.

“The capacity to prevent and control COVID-19 in rural areas is weak. During the holiday period for the lunar new year, the number of people returning to the towns will increase. It is necessary to strengthen the measures,” the agency said last night.

Thus, those who want to return to their villages must send the authorities in those areas a negative test for coronavirus before traveling and subsequently undergo 14 days of “observation at home,” a period during which “they should not go out unless it is necessary.”

Two other tests should also be done: one after a week and another two weeks after returning.

A Commission official asked local governments to be prepared to send reinforcements to rural areas if new outbreaks emerge, while the national government calls for attention to the multiple outbreaks although it insists that “the epidemic, in general, is controlled.”

The plan is that all cities with less than 5 million inhabitants are prepared to test all their residents in two days, and that those with more population can do it in a period of three to five days.

China confirmed today 126 new local infections, most in the northeastern provinces of Heilongjiang, Jilin and Hebei, where efforts are being redoubled to contain the outbreaks with quarantines and massive tests.

Apart from these areas, infections are worrisome in the Beijing Daxing district, which houses the new airport in the country’s capital, where 13 new cases have been detected since Sunday.

The first two, according to authorities, contracted the SARS-CoV-2 mutation detected in the United Kingdom.

Consequently, people from the district have been banned from leaving the capital without prior authorization and a negative test, while five residential communities in the Tiangongyuan sub-district remain confined awaiting test results, local press reports.

The fear that the outbreak will spread through Beijing has caused the suspension of classes in kindergartens from Thursday, while those of the rest of the educational centers must end the semester virtually or advance the holidays for the lunar New Year. EFE-EPA

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