China isolates province with biggest outbreak since Wuhan

By Alvaro Alfaro

Beijing, Mar 15 (EFE).- China has been witnessing unprecedented covid cases since its first outbreak in Wuhan in 2020, with a spurt in cases in the northeast of the country and in the metropolises of Shenzhen and Shanghai, against which the local authorities have applied a strict zero-covid policy.

The Asian country announced Tuesday the detection of 3,602 local covid cases in its mainland, of which more than 3,000 were located in the northeastern province of Jilin, bordering Russia and North Korea.

Since Monday, its 26 million inhabitants have been banned from leaving the province, a measure that has not been applied in China since the first outbreak in the central province of Hubei, whose capital is Wuhan, in early 2020.

The province – the size of Albania – is facing a “serious and complicated situation” according to local health authorities, and has already completed the construction of five temporary hospitals with a capacity for 22,880 beds while others are still under construction.

However, the province has not recorded any deaths for months and the vast majority of those infected in this new outbreak – 3,059 of the 3,076 cases detected Monday – show mild symptoms and none are serious.

Nevertheless, China’s zero covid strategy provides for the isolation of all infected people and their close contacts in facilities for this purpose, which adds pressure to the hospital system of places where outbreaks occur.

Some 7,000 soldiers have been mobilized for pandemic prevention efforts, including massive testing of the population where a case is detected.

However, the governor of the province, Han Jun, was confident and promised on Monday that the province, where some cities like Changchun (capital) and Jilin are already totally or partially confined, will succeed in “cutting the chain of social contagion” before a week. this means that transmission will only be detected in isolation installations.

Jilin Governor Han Jun expressed confidence Monday that the province – cities such as the capital of Changchun and Jilin are already under total or partial lockdown – will succeed in cutting the chain of infections in a week.

During the weekend, the southern city of Shenzhen, with 17 million inhabitants, announced the cancellation of public transport services and restrictions on movement in the affected neighborhoods following the recent outbreak that has resulted in 551 active cases in the city, according to the latest official data.

The city, bordering Hong Kong – which is dealing with a seventh wave of covid and has already recorded more than 2,800 deaths since Mar. 1 -, also announced mass testing campaign to collect samples three times from all the city’s inhabitants.

For its part, Shanghai, with 671 active cases, has not declared total lockdown, but many residents of affected neighborhoods have been banned from going to the streets, and schools have announced holding online classes.

Against the largest coronavirus outbreak since the first one in Wuhan, China has barely changed its “dynamic zero covid” strategy that includes closing borders for non-residents and massive testing and movement restrictions wherever a case is detected.

Since the start of the pandemic, China has witnessed 120,504 infections and 4,636 deaths, according to official data. EFE


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