China races to contain outbreaks amid vaccination efforts

By Jesús Centeno

Beijing, Jan 15 (efe-epa).- China is working against the clock to contain coronavirus outbreaks in the northeastern provinces of Hebei and Heilongjiang, resulting in the lockdown of over 20 million people and high infection levels not recorded in the country since early March.

While continuing its vaccination campaign in the lead up to the lunar New Year, China’s National Health Commission reported 144 cases — including 135 local infections — of Covid-19 on Friday.

Of those 135 local infections, 90 were detected in Hebei, which has sealed several cities and placed millions of inhabitants under lockdown.

Another 43 local infections were recorded in Heilongjiang province, bordering Russia, the same as the previous day, while isolated cases were also detected in the provinces of Guangxi and Shaanxi.

Experts from the National Health Commission have been quoted saying they previously believed rural China was too big and sparsely populated for the coronavirus to spread so easily, but this time is different.

State channel CCTV on Friday broadcast footage of construction of a mega medical observation centre in Shijiazhuang that will be used for quarantine.

The videos are reminiscent of the construction of express hospitals built in Wuhan during the first outbreak of the coronavirus.

The Chinese New Year holiday period begins in less than a month, between 11 and 17 February, when hundreds of millions of people in China travel to their places of origin.

Many fairs, mass celebrations and exhibitions across the country have already been cancelled to try and reduce the spread of the virus.

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