Some Chinese cities, provinces issue travel warnings amid Fujian Covid-19 outbreak

Medical workers conducting Covid-19 tests for residents in Xiamen, Fujian province, China, on Sept 14, 2021.
Medical workers conducting Covid-19 tests for residents in Xiamen, Fujian province, China, on Sept 14, 2021.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

BEIJING (REUTERS) – China’s Covid-19 outbreak in Fujian province, which has reported 152 local cases in five days, has prompted cities in other parts of the country to issue travel warnings ahead of major holidays, though the state media warned against imposing blanket travel curbs.

The travel warnings come ahead of the week-long National Day holiday starting on Oct 1, a major tourist season, as well as a shorter Mid-Autumn Festival holiday next week.

The last outbreak in July to last month that saw strict movement restrictions in some cities hit tourism, hospitality and transportation sectors and significantly slowed retail sales growth.

Even though all the new local cases in China since last Friday were reported in south-eastern Fujian province only, the north-eastern city of Jilin, Maoming and Guangzhou in the south have advised people against non-essential trips out of their provinces. Shanxi and Heilongjiang provinces have also made similar advisories.

The cities of Chifeng and Hohhot in the northern autonomous region of Inner Mongolia have advised residents to stay put during the holidays, while Xi'an in Shaanxi province told residents to avoid leaving town for unnecessary reasons.

The National Health Commission said on Wednesday (Sept 15) that 50 new locally transmitted cases were reported for Tuesday, compared with 59 infections a day earlier. All of them were in Fujian.  

That brings the total number of local infections in the three Fujian cities of Putian, where the outbreak began, Xiamen and Quanzhou to 152.  

In an editorial on Wednesday, state tabloid Global Times said "such a big country like China cannot be frightened by a very local outbreak in Fujian".  

Local officials should not casually advocate blanket orders to stay put during the holidays, or turn such advocacy into a requirement, it said.  

"We need to gradually enhance the accurate efficiency of our dynamic zero-case route," the newspaper added.  

"We should avoid a complete halt on a large scale. We have to strive for early detection of each outbreak. We also need to make sure that we can contain it faster so that it will cause less harm to the society."

Including imported cases, China reported 73 new confirmed coronavirus cases for Tuesday, compared with 92 a day earlier, according to the National Health Commission.  

China reported 16 new asymptomatic coronavirus cases, which it does not classify as confirmed infections, compared with 20 a day earlier.  No new deaths were reported. 

About 30,000 people travelled from Putian to other provinces from Aug 26 to last Friday, state television reported on Monday citing estimates from the health authorities, stirring concerns of contagion.

Mr Zeng Shidian, director of Disease Control and Prevention Centre in Wenzhou, in Zhejiang province north of Fujian, was cited as saying in local media that there is a “high” risk of the city seeing some imported cases from Putian and other parts of Fujian due to the movement of people and goods.

Wenzhou is urging its residents not to travel to Fujian during the upcoming holidays. The city said on Tuesday it will close indoor entertainment venues for half a month.

As at Tuesday, mainland China recorded 95,413 confirmed cases, with the cumulative death toll unchanged at 4,636.