Northeast China isolated to tackle worst outbreaks since March

Beijing, Jan 19 (efe-epa).- The Chinese authorities have reinforced measures to check fresh Covid-19 outbreaks in three northeastern provinces of the country, where at least 11 areas have been isolated by infections of recent days.

The authorities are also carrying out tests on a mass scale among the population in an attempt to stop the infection curve from climbing.

The National Health Commission on Tuesday reported 118 fresh cases, of which 106 were locally transmitted.

These cases were detected in the northeastern provinces of Jilin (43), Hebei (35) and Heilongjiang (27), while one case was recorded in the capital, Beijing.

With this, the total number of active cases in mainland China remains at 1,387, of which 61 are severe.

The health authorities also reported the detection of 91 asymptomatic cases, although Beijing does not include them in the list of confirmed cases unless they develop symptoms.

The situation in Jilin, where a superspreader has caused more than a hundred infections and led to the closure of the towns of Gongzhuling and Tonghua, which are coducting tests on all their residents.

According to local media reports, Tonghua with 2.3 million residents, will conduct a second round of nucleic acid testing from Wednesday, after recording 34 confirmed cases and 23 asymptomatic cases on Tuesday.

The superspreader, a 45-year-old man who participated in a market promotion related to the health sector, traveled to three cities in Jilin from neighboring Heilongjiang and gave four lectures there at two health clubs.

In total, he caused 102 direct and indirect infections, including 79 people who attended the talks and 23 of their close contacts, according to the official Global Times newspaper.

As for Heilongjiang, the resurgence of the coronavirus in Wangkui County has taken the total infections to 243 asymptomatic and 145 confirmed cases since Jan. 9, according to provincial health authorities.

Sixteen officials have been pulled up for the outbreak in Suihua city in the province, including the deputy director of Wangkui County and the head of the disease control department.

Meanwhile, in Hebei, which has confirmed a total of 822 cases since Jan. 2, a megacenter of “medical observation” near the capital city of Shijiazhuang was expected to be completed Tuesday, which will be used to to quarantine people, especially those who came into close contacts with confirmed cases.

All residents have been asked to stay indoors and all public transport has been suspended, while more than 20,000 social workers and 40,000 volunteers are involved in disinfection, transportation and logistics tasks, the state-owned broadcaster CCTV reported.

However, several residents have complained that they do not have access to medical services or that they were stranded by the suspension of public transport, while some students have not been able to enter their university campuses, according to South China Morning Post newspaper.

The conditions are reminiscent of the situation in just a year ago in the city of Wuhan, where the first Covid-19 cases were recorded.

An article posted on Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, that was forwarded 165,000 times before being deleted, remarked that the Shijiazhuang authorities did not appear to have learned from Wuhan’s experience.

On the other hand, medical teams from all over the country have arrived in Hebei in recent days to conduct epidemiological studies and treat patients in Shijiazhuang and Xingtai, the cities most affected by the outbreak in the province.

Meanwhile, the administration at Langfang in Hebei, announced Tuesday that the city may return to normal after being sealed for a week except for Gu’an County, which will remain under quarantine until Jan. 25.

The authorities are particularly monitoring the situation in the villages of these provinces in the run up to the Lunar New Year holidays, which in 2021 falls between Feb.11-17, during which hundreds of millions of urban immigrants travel to their hometowns.

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