Parts of northern China tighten curbs after new Covid-19 flare-ups

China reported 21 new locally transmitted Covid-19 cases with confirmed symptoms on Nov 28, 2021. PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING (REUTERS) - A resurgence of Covid-19 infections in northern China has forced two small cities to suspend public transport and tighten control over residents' movements, as the country shows it is not willing to go easy on local outbreaks.

China reported 21 new locally transmitted Covid-19 cases with confirmed symptoms on Sunday, official data showed on Monday (Nov 29), marking the highest daily count since mid-November.

Almost all of the new local cases were detected in the northern Chinese region of Inner Mongolia.

The latest cases came shortly after a few other northern cities, hit hard in China's biggest Delta outbreak, which started mid-October, had contained their clusters this month and gradually lifted curbs, indicating it has become harder for China to stay clear of local flare-ups.

The new resurgence is tiny relative to many outbreaks overseas, and national officials specified that China does not aim for remaining at zero cases.

However, Beijing still requires officials to stay on high vigilance and be ready to quickly quash local outbreaks, meaning some tough curbs are likely to be imposed when new cases emerge.

The Inner Mongolian city of Manzhouli, a crucial port of entry that borders Russia and has about 150,000 residents, reported 20 local symptomatic cases on Sunday.

Over the weekend, Manzhouli banned residents from leaving town and suspended public transport as well as certain non-urgent services at hospitals.

It also closed marketplaces and entertainment venues, halted dining in restaurants, in-person school classes and religious gatherings, and started a second round of citywide testing.

Hailar district, an administrative division about three hours away from Manzhouli, has blocked some roads linking it to the outside and required people arriving from Manzhouli to be quarantined at centralised facilities for two weeks.

Nehe, a city of about 440,000 in the north-eastern Heilongjiang province, on Sunday reported one locally transmitted asymptomatic carrier, which China counts separately from confirmed patients.

Nehe has tightened controls over residents' movements, shut down non-essential businesses, and cut public transport and some services at private hospitals and clinics.

The cities of Suihua, Shuangyashan and Daqing, also in Heilongjiang province, have required people seeking to leave or enter to provide proof of a negative test result within 48 hours.

As at Sunday, mainland China had 98,672 confirmed symptomatic cases, including local ones and those found among inbound travellers. The death toll remained at 4,636.

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