More cities in central China have resorted to strict curbs as new COVID-19 infections in Henan Province were reported.
Henan reported 64 cases of locally transmitted infections with confirmed symptoms on Jan. 5, up from just four a day earlier. The Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) official COVID stats also reported 189 nationwide cases on Jan. 6.
Although the numbers are small compared to many other countries in the world, several cities in the province have imposed new limits on travel and economic activities in response to the spike.
Reuters reported that in Gushi, a Henan province county of 1 million residents, officials were seen stopping people from leaving their homes and discouraging out of state visitors from entering. Although the county had reported only one symptomatic case resulting from an asymptomatic carrier on Jan. 5, authorities ordered certain shops to remain closed until further notice.
Meanwhile, nearly all of the more than 4 million residents of Henan’s Xuchang city were told they had to be tested for the virus beginning tomorrow. People were also told to minimize unnecessary trips and remain indoors unless leaving for medical emergencies. It was also reported that the 1 million residents of Yuzhou city, under Xuchang’s jurisdiction, were placed into a citywide lockdown.
Mainland China has only announced a handful of Omicron cases brought in from international travelers and one locally transmitted infection. However, it has intensified efforts to reduce the risk of the highly contagious variant from spreading within its borders.
According to a notice published on Jan. 4 by China’s-U.S. embassy requirements, in addition to existing requirements, visitors from the U.S. are required to complete a nucleic acid test seven days before departure and submit a weekly report of their body temperature to health officials.
Authorities taking all measures ahead of Winter Olympics
Chinese authorities are taking urgent action to contain and prevent new outbreaks just weeks ahead of the Winter Olympics and Lunar New Year’s peak travel season. The Olympics are scheduled to begin in Beijing and nearby Hebei province on Feb. 4.
This year’s Chinese New Year falls on Feb. 1, and typically sees hundreds of thousands of people all across the country return to their hometowns to reunite with their families and ring in the new year.
Last month, authorities imposed strict travel restrictions on Xi’an’s migrant workers, banning them from returning home during the upcoming new year festivities.
About 300 million migrant workers making a living in China’s cities travel back to their hometowns each year — for many, the break is the only opportunity they have to return home and see their families.
Henan’s new restrictions follow citywide lockdowns imposed on the cities of Fuzhou and Xi’an. The latter is the capital of Shaanxi province and is home to roughly 13 million residents. The city has been under a total lockdown for over two weeks now.
Since then, the situation in Xi’an has rapidly worsened, with many residents claiming food sources are running in dangerously low supply and people are resorting to desperate measures such as trading electronics for essential supplies and vegetables.
Videos and photos posted on Chinese social media site Weibo showed people exchanging cigarettes for cabbage, dishwashing liquid for apples, and sanitary pads for a small amount of vegetables.
One video showed a resident appearing to trade his Nintendo Switch console for a packet of instant noodles and two steamed buns.
On Dec. 27, around 150 medical staff from the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) air force were also dispatched to control what the government claims are scores of COVID-19 infections in the northwestern Chinese city.
International flights into Xian’s airport were halted starting yesterday, according to state-media Xinhua news agency. Domestic flights had already been suspended since the lockdown began on Dec. 23.
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