Chinese city sealed off to squash coronavirus outbreak
China has sealed an outsized city near Beijing, cutting transport links and banning many residents from leaving, as authorities move to stem the country’s largest Covid-19 outbreak in six months. The pandemic has thus far broadly been delivered to heel by Chinese authorities since its emergence in Wuhan in late 2019, with small outbreaks swiftly snuffed out with the mass testing, local lockdowns and travel restrictions.
Around 100 new Covid-19 cases are discovered within the past week in Shijiazhuang, a city of several millions in Hebei whose surrounding areas take the entire population to 11 million. All vehicles and residents were banned from leaving the town and train services suspended, authorities announced late Thursday.
Footage from state broadcaster CCTV showed residents being swabbed by medical workers in hazmat suits at community centres in Shijiazhuang while queues outside stretched round the block. Virus control staff stood guard at highways entering the town , which had mostly been blocked by barricades, the pictures released on Thursday showed. Hebei province reported 33 new confirmed Covid-19 cases on Friday additionally to 51 from the day before -- pushing the nationwide daily total to the very best figure in five months.
The overwhelming majority of the infections were found in Shijiazhuang. Schools are closed and citywide mass testing of residents is under way, having sampled over 670,000 people as of Thursday morning, state media reported. Staff were filmed giving injections of China’s recently approved Insofar vaccine, which features a 79 percent efficacy rate. Three officials from the city’s worst-hit Gaocheng district -- the epicenter of the newest outbreak -- are disciplined for apparent negligence in virus control, a symbol of the pressure on local authorities to squash the virus wherever it emerges.