China re-imposes fresh lockdowns amid rising COVID-19 infections, spread to 11 provinces

World Tuesday 26/October/2021 14:54 PM
China re-imposes fresh lockdowns amid rising COVID-19 infections, spread to 11 provinces

Hong Kong: China is re-imposing fresh lockdowns amid rising COVID-19 infections, the country recorded more than 100 cases across 11 provinces over the last week.

"Since October 17, there have been multiple scattered local outbreaks in China, and they're expanding rapidly," Mi Feng, a spokesman at the National Health Commission (NHC), said at a news conference Sunday. "There is an increasing risk that the outbreak will spread even further," reported CNN. The rapid spread comes despite about 75 per cent of China's population -- of more than a billion people -- being fully vaccinated, according to Mi.

The spread of coronavirus infections worried the Chinese government, which insists on a strict zero-COVID policy to stamp out infections.

The outbreak was first detected on October 16 among a tour group of fully vaccinated senior citizens from Shanghai who travelled in several northern regions. Among the 133 infections reported as of Sunday, 106 were linked to 13 tour groups, according to Mi, the NHC health official, reported CNN.

Infections have been reported in nearly a third of the country's provinces and regions, with all medium- and high-risk regions concentrated in Inner Mongolia, Gansu, Ningxia, Guizhou and Beijing.

Authorities have banned travel agencies from organising cross-provincial tours in these regions.

On Sunday, the Chinese capital tightened entry restrictions into the city, requiring travellers from places with confirmed cases to present a negative coronavirus test and undergo 14 days of health monitoring, reported CNN.

The city has recorded 14 confirmed cases in the latest outbreak, including 12 over the past three days, according to a CNN tally of the Beijing Municipal Health Commission's daily reports.

A widespread COVID outbreak in Beijing would be the last thing Chinese leaders want to see as the city gears up for the 2022 Winter Olympics in February.

The Chinese authorities in Beijing are making an example of six residents who allegedly broke COVID rules with criminal detentions.

Among them, two went out to eat and invited friends home for mahjong despite having developed fevers upon returning from a COVID-infected tourist destination in Inner Mongolia. Another two tried to climb over the fences of their locked-down gated community, reported CNN.

The city also suspended a marathon originally scheduled for October 31. It has not announced a new date for the event.