Several regions in communist China are seeing a surge in COVID-19 infections. The outbreaks come even as China has vaccinated a significant portion of its population.
Wu Liangyou, an official at the National Health Commission, said the latest wave of infections has hit 11 provinces this week. He stated that most newly infected people have been traveling across regions.
On Oct. 23, the country reported 26 local cases; Inner Mongolia, Beijing, and Ningxia accounted for the majority of the infections. The previous day, 43 new cases were reported. Liangyou predicted infections to keep rising.
Local officials have taken strict measures to keep the latest COVID-19 spike under control. In Beijing, authorities have restricted movement in at least two blocks that have reported fresh cases.
In Lanzhou, the capital of Gansu, schools have been shut down and residents have been asked not to leave the place unless absolutely necessary. People outside of Beijing who reside in places where infections have been reported are now banned from visiting or returning to the national capital. Many regions are stepping up efforts to screen people for potential infections.
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“Ningxia is requiring those who had traveled to Lanzhou since October 5 and Ejina Banner since October 1 to report to local authorities for tests. Shaanxi Province also released similar notices,” according to the state-backed Global Times.
The number of canceled flights to and from places like Gansu, Shaanxi, and Inner Mongolia reached 56 percent, 58 percent, and 41 percent, respectively, on Oct. 21. Roughly 60 percent of flights to and from the main airport in Xi’an have been canceled.
The fresh wave of infection is believed to have been caused by an elderly couple who traveled among a group of tourists. Their trip took them to Shanghai, Xi’an, Gansu, and Inner Mongolia, all four regions which have seen a spike in COVID-19 cases.
The celebrations were related to National Day on October 1, commemorating the establishment of communist rule. It’s believed to be one of the main triggers for the latest outbreak.
Around 515 million domestic trips were made between Oct. 1 and 7. Given the rising number of COVID-19 cases, authorities canceled the Wuhan Marathon that was scheduled for Oct. 24.
Beijing is meanwhile pressing forward with its booster shot program, administering the jab to adults who have been vaccinated for at least six months. There has been talk of mixing and matching vaccines for the booster shots.
Shao Yiming, an epidemiologist who is part of the country’s COVID-19 vaccine response team, stated that he supports the idea. However, he said mixing and matching of vaccines will have to wait until there is data to back up its benefits.
“We need to speed up our research to collect more data. Right now, the regulators’ decision is still that the booster should use the same vaccine [instead of mixing and matching]… But once we receive more data from different types of vaccines, we will then make new recommendations,” Shao told state broadcaster CCTV.
Communist China has reportedly vaccinated around 75.6 percent of its population. The World Health Organization (WHO) recently stated that COVID-19 cases across the world are dropping except in two countries, Russia and China.