China places 11m under lockdown after 117 people infected with Covid in northern city

5,000 testing sites have been set up in order to test every resident and identify and quarantine those who are positive. 

Bethany Dawson
Friday 08 January 2021 10:28
Comments
After China aggressively contained the coronavirus within months, movie theatres on the mainland reopened as early as mid-July
After China aggressively contained the coronavirus within months, movie theatres on the mainland reopened as early as mid-July

More than 11 million people in the northern Chinese city of Shijiazhuang have been placed into a stringent lockdown after an outbreak of Covid-19

Residents of the area are not allowed to leave the city, schools have been suspended, gatherings banned, and residential communities and villages closed off. 

The stringent measures have been put in place after 117 people tested positive for Covid-19 in Shijiazhuang, including 67 people who are asymptomatic.  

A mass testing drive is now in place in the city, with more than 5,000 sites set up in order to test every resident and identify and quarantine those who are positive. 

The cases Shijiazhuang count for all but one of the cases reported in the wider Hebei province. 

There are only 22 additional cases of Covid-19 across the country.  

"Villages should identify, report, isolate and treat cases as early as possible, so as to cut off the transmission," Wu Hao, a national health official, was quoted as saying.

This is not the first time a mass testing drive has been put in place after a surge of cases in China. In October, all nine million residents of Qingdao were tested in five days after a dozen cases were confirmed. The cases were linked to a hospital treating coronavirus patients arriving from abroad.

This new outbreak comes just weeks before the Lunar New Year holiday, the most important annual festival in the Chinese calendar, which often sees millions travelling across the country to reunite with family.

Last year, the Chinese government sealed off Wuhan two days before the Lunar New Year, but millions of people had already left the city, potentially carrying the virus with them to their hometowns across the country.

This year, there is renewed fear that travelling for the Lunar New Year travels could again accelerate the spread of the virus, with a growing number of local governments advising residents against travelling home for the holiday. Now, civil servants and employees of state-owned companies have been ordered to stay unless special approval is given.

Feng Zijian, deputy director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, told state broadcaster CCTV that the surging caseload suggested that the virus had been "spreading quietly for a while."

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in