COVID-19 Outbreak in Southeast China Brings Travel Restrictions Ahead of Week-Long National Holiday

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Residents undergo nucleic acid tests for the Covid-19 coronavirus in Xiamen, in China's eastern Fujian province on September 14, 2021. - China OUT (Image: STR/AFP via Getty Images)

China’s southeastern province of Fujian is grappling with another COVID-19 outbreak after cases more than doubled overnight prompting officials to impose numerous restrictions ahead of the week-long national holiday, authorities said Tuesday. 

The National Health Commission (NHC) reported 59 new locally transmitted cases for Sept. 13 an increase from the previous day’s recorded 22 infections. All of the new infections were recorded in Fujian province which is bordered by Zhejiang province to the north and Guangdong province to the south, Reuters reported.  

Three Fujian cities are recording new infections including Xiamen, a popular tourist destination and transport hub with a population of 5-million. A total of 102 new community infections have been reported across the three cities which includes the city of Putian with a population of 2.8 million people. 

The outbreak is expected to have dampening effects on the week-long National Day holiday that begins on Oct. 1.

Residential compounds and villages in the area were closed off while leisure venues in the tourist city of Xiamen including bars, cinemas, gyms and libraries were all instructed to halt operations, city officials said at a press conference on Monday night. 

Residents were told not to leave the city for non-essential reasons. 

Beginning Tuesday, all schools in Xiamen will be closed including kindergartens, primary and middle schools, and students have been instructed to attend classes online. 

The city’s bus station suspended all routes to other provinces and some parts of Xiamen have initiated mass nucleic acid testing of the population with local authorities planning to roll out citywide testing, according to deputy mayor Liao Huasheng. 

At the Xiamen Gaoqi International Airport approximately 60 percent of flights to and from Xiamen were cancelled on Tuesday, according to Variflight, an aviation data provider. 

The cases were first discovered in two students from local schools following routine testing. The students father, who returned from overseas in early August and who was also infected is considered the likely origin of the outbreak.