BEIJING (Reuters) – China plans to impose strict requirements on COVID testing during the lunar New Year’s holiday season, when tens of millions of people are expected to travel, as it fights the worst wave of new infections since March 2020. .
The Shanghai Mall announced its first locally transmitted cases in two months on Thursday, highlighting the growing risk of the virus spreading elsewhere.
Millions of people in Hebei Province around Beijing and the northeastern provinces of Jilin and Heilongjiang have been locked up in recent weeks.
Authorities are asking people to stay home during the currency season in February to prevent another outbreak.
The new curbs are also being accepted by local authorities in areas that have not yet suffered major outbreaks, including a southwestern city that has banned the entry of foreign foreigners.
A total of 1
Of the 126 new local infections, Heilongjiang reported 68, while Jilin reported 33. Hebei, who has seen the biggest jump in cases so far this month, reported 20 new cases and Beijing reported two cases.
The number of new asymptomatic cases, which China does not classify as confirmed infections, rose to 113 from 58 days earlier.
In a statement posted online, China’s National Health Commission said people returning to rural areas from other provinces during the Lunar New Year period would have to take a negative COVID-19 test within seven days. .
Most of China’s 280 million rural migrant workers typically travel home to their villages at this time of year.
Those who work with imported cold chains or quarantine workers, among other groups, will also have to take a test, even if they stay in the same province, the statement said.
Epidemic control of rural areas, as well as infections spread through imported frozen goods, have been blamed by officials as weak links, partly responsible for the current outbreaks.
A statement from an NHC official during Wednesday’s press conference suggested that anyone returning home would have to take a test. Xinhua’s official media then published an article urging officials to clarify details “as soon as possible.”
Although the latest jump in cases remains mainly in the northeast, some authorities in other parts of China have taken aggressive measures in an attempt to limit the possibility of cluster development.
The city of Ruili in the southwestern province of Yunnan, a popular tourist destination because of its warmer weather, blocked the entry of foreigners traveling from abroad on Wednesday.
The city will also test all Chinese citizens entering the city from areas designated as medium or high risk for COVID-19, and will require them to be quarantined for three weeks – two of which will be in centralized facilities.
Yunnan did not report any new local infections during the current wave, but Ruili was forced to quarantine some residents in September after finding two imported infections from Myanmar.
On Thursday, Shanghai reported three local cases of COVID-19, the first such infections since Nov. 23. The city launched a mass test of all hospital staff earlier Thursday after two such workers at various facilities returned “suspicious” test results for COVID-19 this week.
These individuals have not yet been officially declared confirmed cases.
The total number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in mainland China now stands at 88,701, while the death toll remains unchanged at 4,635.
(Report by Jing Wang and Brenda Goh in Shanghai, Gabriel Crossley and Roxanne Liu in Beijing; Screenplay by Se Young Lee; Edited by Jacqueline Wong, Gerry Doyle and Michael Perry)