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China Fights New COVID-19 Waves in Zhejiang and Xi’an, Quarantining Thousands

Alina Wang
A native of New York, Alina has a Bachelors degree in Corporate Communications from Baruch College and writes about human rights, politics, tech, and society.
Published: December 27, 2021
China Mass Testing
Residents undergo nucleic acid tests for the Covid-19 coronavirus in Xiamen, in China's eastern Fujian province on September 14, 2021. (Image: STR/AFP via Getty Images)

Recently, the epidemic situation in the cities of Ningbo, Shaoxing and Hangzhou in southeastern China’s Zhejiang Province has intensified with the area’s first major COVID-19 cluster this year.  As of mid-December, hundreds of thousands of citizens were put in various forms of quarantine under China’s strict zero-COVID policies, halting business operations, cutting flights and cancelling events. Zhejiang is a key manufacturing hub and accounts for 6 percent of China’s total economy. 

Local authorities have taken large-scale nucleic acid tests on more than 10 million people, while more than 600,000 residents have been either put under “control” or sent directly to quarantine. Within the Shangyu district in Shaoxing city, five communities have been labeled as extremely high risk, while 21 others remain as medium risk. 

Authorities confirmed several hundred cases in the outbreak; however, statistics released under the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) watch deserve a healthy dose of skepticism. 

The major cities of Ningbo, Shaoxing and Hangzhou have placed more than 600,000 people in a control setting and an additional 60,000 people in designated quarantine areas. Health authorities also reported that some of the new cases are said to stem from the new Delta strain, “sub-lineage AY.4”, according to state-media Xinhua.

On Dec. 15, at the 89th press conference on the pandemic in Zhejiang, it was announced that there were 57 newly confirmed cases in Ningbo, Shaoxing and Hangzhou. So far, Zhejiang has isolated 605,652 people, including 62,409 quarantined in designated areas and 39,390 people under home health observation.

While National Health Commission officer Wu Liangyou said the pandemic was developing at a “relatively rapid” speed in the three cities, “the situation nationwide was largely stable,” Wu said. 

Medical workers in protective suits collect swabs from residents at a nucleic acid testing site during a third round of mass testing for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Zhenhai district of Ningbo, Zhejiang province, China, on December 12, 2021. (Image: cnsphoto Getty images via REUTERS)

Ms. Tang, a resident from Shangyu whose full name has been withheld to protect her privacy, tested positive for COVID-19 on Dec. 15. However, prior to testing positive, Tang had traveled to Hangzhou for a work training and had tested negative on Dec. 8, 9 and 12. Tang is fully vaccinated but had mingled with many people during her marketing training at the Eastern Science and Technology Hall in Hangzhou on Dec. 7. 

Since Dec. 15, only one daily flight from Hangzhou to China’s capital has been allowed and the total number of newly confirmed cases in Hangzhou stands at 21.

More than 50,000 people in Zhejiang have been quarantined at centralized facilities and nearly half a million people’s health conditions were being monitored. The coastal province has a population of 64.6 million.

Shaanxi, Xi’an: public parks and museums closed

In addition to the challenges facing Zhejiang, many public places in Xi’an, Shaanxi Province, were also closed and three new medium risk areas were identified. According to CCTV news, on Dec. 14 and 15, three cases of local transmission were confirmed in Xi’an, Shaanxi. All were isolated and treated, according to state officials. 

These following places in Xi’an have been closed until further notice starting Dec. 15 and 16: Shaanxi History Museum, Daci’en Temple, Sage International Shopping Center, Shaanxi Provincial Library and the Zhouzhi Water Street Scenic Area. 

In addition, to prevent the spread of the virus under China’s zero-tolerance approach, local authorities around the country have started to urge residents to avoid “unnecessary” trips to their hometown for the Lunar New Year holiday, which falls on Feb. 1, 2022. 

According to the National Health Commission’s, as many as 47 – or nearly 80 percent – of China’s 59 locally infected cases reported on Dec. 15 were related to the outbreak in Zhejiang province. The northern region of Inner Mongolia, which has been battling an outbreak for weeks, accounted for 10 cases.

COVID-19, which is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus and originated in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019, has killed millions of people globally and caused tremendous economic loss. Chinese authorities claim slightly over 101,000 infections and less than 5,000 deaths nationwide, and hail its “zero COVID” policies as instrumental in winning a “people’s war” against the virus

Despite this, there is considerable doubt as to the veracity of these figures as well as the effectiveness of Beijing’s heavy-handed lockdown policies.