China sees growing coronavirus threat as more cities locked down

Nellie Chapman
January 13, 2021

Millions of people lined in freezing temperatures Wednesday to receive a second round of coronavirus tests in a city south of Beijing that is at the heart of China's most serious recent outbreak of COVID-19.

The number of new cases in mainland China reported on Tuesday nearly halved from a day earlier and remained a small fraction of what it saw at the height of the outbreak in early 2020. However, authorities are implementing strict curbs whenever new cases emerge.

The National Health Commission has urgently allocated convalescent plasma from recovered COVID-19 cases in Wuhan for the treatment of severe patients in Hebei, said Liang Zhankai, director of Hebei provincial health commission, adding that hospitalized patients are generally in stable condition.

Chinese authorities locked down the city of Langfang in Hebei Province near Beijing on Tuesday, putting its 4.9million residents under quarantine for seven days while conducting mass COVID-19 testing.

Two counties under Langfang's jurisdiction which border Beijing - Guan and Sanhe - have already announced home quarantine measures.

State TV did not say how many COVID cases were reported in the county, but authorities in Beijing's Xicheng district said on Tuesday that a Guan county resident who works at a building in the district has been diagonosed with COVID-19.

Similar measures have been ordered around the country, particularly in Wuhan where 11 million people were placed under lockdown for 76 days last winter during the early days of the pandemic.

The province has shut off certain sections of highways and is telling vehicles registered to Shijiazhuang to turn back.

"More than 20k people in 12 villages in Zengcun county of Gaocheng district in N China's Shijiazhuang have been transferred to designated quarantine areas for medical observation since Monday".

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On Tuesday, Beijing authorities announced that the procuratorate had begun an investigation into a person who was confirmed with COIVD-19, but did not identify all of their close contacts, and may have led to a five-year-old becoming infected with the coronavirus.

A new guideline issued by the Beijing Centre for Disease Prevention and Control recommended that taxi and ride-hailing operators suspend car-pooling services, the Communist Party-backed Beijing Daily reported on Tuesday.

Suihua city in Heilongjiang was sealed after it confirmed one coronavirus case and 45 asymptomatic cases with smaller cities near Suihua also set to be sealed or placed under travel restrictions.

The province reported a total of 90 new cases on Tuesday, and Shijiazhuang, the capital city of the province reported 84 cases and Xingtai reported six cases.

The cities of Yichun and Qiqihar in Heilongjiang today reported one and seven new asymptomatic cases linked to Wangkui, respectively.

Underscoring the risk of the spread, the city of Changchun - the capital of northeastern Jilin province - reported seven new asymptomatic patients on January 11, four of whom had travelled from Wangkui recently.

Residential compounds that these patients lived in were put into lockdown, preventing people and vehicles from leaving the premises.

The number of new asymptomatic cases, which China does not classify as confirmed cases, fell to 38 from 81 cases a day earlier.

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