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China’s Guangzhou is battling the Delta Covid variant with blockades, mass tests

People are waiting in lines for a nucleic acid test on May 26, 2021 in Guangzhou, China.

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GUANGZHOU, China – Authorities in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong are conducting mass tests and locking areas to try to control the outbreak of coronavirus cases in Guangzhou.

The city cites the Delta variant of the coronavirus, first discovered in India, as a driver behind the rise in cases reported from the second half of May. The Delta strain is known to be highly transmissible.

Guangzhou, a city of more than 1

5 million people and the provincial capital, reported 96 of more than 100 cases in Guangdong province in the latest outbreak.

China, where the coronavirus first appeared last year, quickly controlled the epidemic, and there have been very few cases in the last 12 months. In some parts of the country, however, clusters have sprung up, including major cities such as the capital Beijing and the financial center of Shanghai.

The cases in Guangzhou are potentially even more worrying, as they involve the Delta strain of coronavirus, which can spread very quickly.


A 75-year-old woman in Liwan, a western Guangzhou district, is the first confirmed case of the Delta variant on May 21. She visited a restaurant and eventually infected her husband. The latest infections started from there and have since spread to other parts of the city.

Liwan, still the hardest hit area, has imposed heavy blockades on certain streets. Some areas do not allow people to leave a certain area and residents are not allowed to leave their building. 24-hour checkpoints have been set up to monitor traffic and exit from these areas.

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Restaurants and entertainment venues are also closed.

But the virus has spread to other parts of the city and countryside. Foshan, a city southwest of Guangzhou, has reported cases. On June 4, six members of the same family were tested for coronavirus in the Nansha district of Guangzhou. A positive case was opened Sunday at Shenzhen’s China Technology Center, home to companies including Huawei and Tencent.

In other areas of Guangzhou, less affected by recent groups of cases, some restaurants and bars have begun to offer export menus.

Mass testing, travel restrictions

After the first case was discovered, Guangzhou initially conducted mass tests in Liwan, which have since expanded to other areas.

In the central business district, known as the New City of Zhuzhiang, residents were asked to take an on-site test near their apartments between Friday and Sunday.

One such testing site, which was located on a road full of bars and restaurants, had huge lines on Friday.

Guangzhou conducted more than 16 million tests between May 26 and midnight on June 5.

In Guangzhou, authorities imposed stricter travel restrictions. Some metro stations in the city are closed. Authorities urged people not to leave the city. But if residents have to leave the countryside, they must take a negative nucleic acid test within 48 hours of leaving. Before, the passengers had a 72-hour window.

Hundreds of domestic flights have also been canceled at Guangzhou’s Baiyun International Airport.

Driverless cars carrying consumables

Guangzhou has become a hub for driverless car companies to test their cars on public roads. And when Lebanon is locked up, these companies transport goods with their autonomous vehicles to Lebanon.

Guangzhou-based WeRide uses its autonomous bus to transport food to Lebanon. Pony.ai, another autonomous driving company, sent its vehicles to Lebanon with deliveries.

Chinese internet giant Baidu is also using its autonomous vehicles to deliver food and medical personnel to the affected areas.

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