Several Chinese cities under lockdown amid Covid outbreaks

Beijing, Aug 11 (EFE).- Several Chinese municipalities across the country have declared total or partial lockdowns due to Covid-19 outbreaks, state media reported Thursday.

Among the affected areas is the popular holiday destination of the southern island province of Hainan, where Sanya, a city known for its luxury beachfront hotels, has registered more than 1,250 cases in the last 24 hours.

Since last week, different areas of the locality began to apply selective lockdowns that meant more than 80,000 tourists were unable to return home.

Local authorities reported that the outbreak was caused by an imported variant of the Omicron BA.5.1.3 strain, which was introduced to the island through trade with foreign fishermen.

Chinese state media reported Thursday that more than 2,000 tourists who were staying in areas of the island not considered at risk have been able to fly home.

A temporary hospital with an area of 27,800 square meters and a capacity of more than 1,800 beds was recently opened on the tropical island.

Under China’s zero-tolerance Covid strategy, all infected people and their close contacts have to be isolated in hospitals or other official facilities.

Meanwhile, in Yiwu, a major manufacturing and trading center in east China, imposed a three-day lockdown from Thursday to try to contain an outbreak that authorities have described as “serious”.

Since Aug. 2, Yiwu, with a population of 1.8 million, has recorded just over 470 positive cases.

Residential complexes in the city remain closed and authorities have suspended public transport.

Elsewhere in the country, the capital of the western Xinjiang region, Urumqi, partially suspended public transport services and imposed a five-day closure of some housing estates after detecting 27 cases on Wednesday.

In another of China’s remote regions, Tibet, cases have been detected in the last week after none were registered in two years.

The outbreak has led to travel restrictions in the capital, Lhasa, and the town of Shigatse, the second largest in the region.

The entire region of Tibet, which is larger than Bolivia and has a population of 3.5 million, registered 54 cases on Wednesday.

Chinese health authorities said Wednesday that “prevention and control work is coming under increasing pressure,” but reiterated the need to “adhere to the zero Covid policy.”

Since a number of outbreaks in the spring, millions in China’s major cities have been required to undergo several PCR tests per week to enter public spaces with lockdowns ordered in areas where cases are detected.

In addition to the mass testing and lockdowns, the country has kept its borders practically closed to the outside world. Since March 2020, China has been closed to tourism and only domestic travelers and some foreigners with valid residence permits are allowed to enter, after which they are quarantined in a hotel at their own expense.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, 232,809 people have been infected in the country and 5,226 have died. EFE


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