The north Chinese city of Tianjin on Sunday advised its nearly 14 million residents to stay home while conducting massive covid tests after a series of recent cases, including two caused by the Omicron variant, state-controlled media reported.
Tianjin emerged as a new area of concern after more than 20 covid cases were reported there in recent days, most of them imported from abroad, according to the National Health Commission.
They include at least two cases of the Omicron variant, as well as 15 infections among elementary and middle school students, according to various state media.
However, no major blocking order has been seen so far.
Chinese authorities have already been grappling with a larger outbreak centered in the northwestern city of Xi’an that has prompted questioning of the country’s zero-tolerance policy of strict closures and immediate mass testing to curb the outbreaks.
Tianjin residents have been told that until they test negative, they will not receive a “green” code on Covid smartphone tracking apps that almost everyone in China now has to present when using the public transport and in other situations.
Tianjin is a major port city about 150 kilometers (90 miles) southeast of Beijing.
Xi’an, the historic home of China’s famous Terracotta Warriors, was closed last month, forcing its 13 million residents to stay indoors. New case numbers there have slowed in recent days.
Officials have faced complaints from Xi’an residents about the chaotic handling of the shutdown, including poor access to food and daily essentials, and viral cases such as the miscarriage suffered by an eight-month-old pregnant woman who was left behind. denied entry to a hospital without a Covid test.
The Chinese government has touted its strict initial response to Covid, which has largely controlled the pandemic within its borders, as preferable to the sometimes lax and chaotic measures abroad.
International flights are a fraction of pre-pandemic levels and arrivals are subjected to a strict quarantine for weeks, and mandatory track and trace applications mean that close contacts are generally quickly detected and quarantined.
China is strictly sticking to the zero-tolerance approach as outbreaks continue to emerge in the run-up to next month’s Beijing Winter Olympics.
China’s official tally since the start of the pandemic, just over 100,000 COVID cases, is a fraction of the record 1 million cases recorded by the US in a single day earlier this month.
However, it is widely believed that cases from China’s initial chaotic outbreak in Wuhan in early 2020 were not reported.
Source Credit: TheGuardian
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