Largest surge in cases in more than a year . . .
A new COVID-19 outbreak in China, first detected on July 20 in the city of Nanjing, has spread to at least 15 provinces and 26 other cities across the country. As of August 2, the total number of locally transmitted infections linked with the initial cluster has surpassed 300. The current spike in cases is believed to be caused mainly by the highly infectious Delta variant. Over the past year, Chinese authorities have been largely successful in containing small-scale resurgences within the provinces where they are initially discovered. Emergency lockdowns and massive testing for millions of citizens are now being carried out.
Airport negligence, tourist season among causes . . .
The recent COVID-19 cases have been traced to the cleaning staff at Nanjing’s Lukou Airport, where they contracted the Delta strain from a cargo plane arriving from Russia. An inadequate isolation policy for airport staff, who are supposed to work in separate international and domestic teams, allowed transmission to other staff members and their contacts. Adding to the problem, China has hit peak tourist peak season, creating another hotspot 800 miles away in a popular tourist destination, Zhangjiajie, where cases were found among audience members attending an outdoor performance.
‘Zero tolerance’ and stringent measures likely to continue . . .
Although the daily case counts are much smaller compared to waves experienced in many other parts of the world, the Chinese government has been taking a ‘zero tolerance’ approach that aims to eliminate all cases of COVID-19 within its borders. Strict border controls will likely remain in place until next year, as evident in the most recent announcement to suspend the issuing and renewing of passports for non-urgent purposes. New domestic travel restrictions, such as halting trains to Beijing from 23 high-risk areas, have also been implemented. While discussions are happening around the implications for international trade and business due to China’s tightened borders, Chinese locals are mostly supportive of their government’s measures to contain COVID-19.
- China News Weekly: 国内疫情“爆发式”蔓延，短期内仍有继续扩散风险
- South China Morning Post: China pauses passport renewals to try to keep Delta variant out
- Time: COVID-19 Delta variant reaches Wuhan as China battles widest outbreak since disease emerged in 2019