Coronavirus Stiffer curbs

China locks down another city amid fears over second wave

Millions under home quarantine in Hebei; strict measures taken despite fall in new cases

A checkpoint on the outskirts of Beijing near the provincial border with Hebei province yesterday. The number of new Covid-19 cases in mainland China reported yesterday remains a small fraction of the figure at the height of the outbreak early last y
A checkpoint on the outskirts of Beijing near the provincial border with Hebei province yesterday. The number of new Covid-19 cases in mainland China reported yesterday remains a small fraction of the figure at the height of the outbreak early last year, but the authorities are implementing strict curbs whenever new cases emerge to prevent the kind of economic paralysis seen a year ago.PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING/SHANGHAI • The authorities in China introduced new curbs in areas surrounding Beijing yesterday, putting 4.9 million residents under lockdown as new Covid-19 infections raised worries about a second wave in a nation that has mostly contained the disease.

The number of new cases in mainland China reported yesterday was almost half that from a day earlier and remains a small fraction of what it saw at the height of the outbreak early last year.

However, the local authorities are implementing strict curbs whenever new cases emerge to prevent the kind of economic paralysis seen a year ago.

The National Health Commission said in a statement yesterday that a total of 55 new Covid-19 cases were reported, down from 103 a day earlier.

Hebei accounted for 40 of the 42 local infections, with Beijing and north-eastern Heilongjiang province reporting one local case each.

The city of Langfang in Hebei yesterday said its 4.9 million residents will be put under home quarantine for seven days and be subject to mass Covid-19 testing in the latest attempt to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Two counties under Langfang's jurisdiction that border Beijing, Guan and Sanhe, had already announced home quarantine measures. Guan reported one new Covid-19 case but Sanhe did not say whether any of its residents were diagnosed with the disease.

Shijiazhuang, Hebei's capital, has been hardest hit in the latest surge in infections and has already placed its 11 million people under lockdown. The province has shut off certain sections of highways and is ordering vehicles registered to Shijiazhuang to turn back.

Gaocheng district in Shijiazhuang is gathering more than 20,000 people living in 12 remote villages into centralised quarantine as part of the city's Covid-19 control, state media China News Service reported late on Monday.

The authorities in Beijing's Xicheng district said yesterday that the confirmed Covid-19 patient from Guan county works at a building in the district.

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 yesterday.

  • 55

    Total number of new Covid-19 cases reported in China, according to the National Health Commission yesterday, down from 103 a day earlier.

  • 40

    Number of local infections Hebei accounted for.

  • 4.9m

    Number or residents in Langfang, a city in Hebei, who will be put under home quarantine for seven days.

The guideline also said that drivers should get a nucleic acid test for the coronavirus every week and be vaccinated in order to work.

Other provinces in China are reporting new confirmed or asymptomatic cases.

Heilongjiang province reported 36 new asymptomatic cases in Wangkui county, which also went into lockdown on Monday.

The authorities do not classify asymptomatic cases as confirmed Covid-19 infections.

Yichun city in Heilongjiang province yesterday reported one new asymptomatic case linked to Wangkui as well.

Underscoring the risk of the spread, the city of Changchun - the capital of north-eastern Jilin province - reported seven new asymptomatic patients on Monday, 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 authorities in Wuhan, where Covid-19 first emerged in late 2019, on Monday launched contact tracing work after two infected people from Hebei visited the city.

Across China, the number of new asymptomatic cases rose to 81 from 76 a day earlier.

REUTERS

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 13, 2021, with the headline 'China locks down another city amid fears over second wave'. Print Edition | Subscribe