China sees new Covid-19 cases drop, but push on with new curbs

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A worker from the city’s centre for disease control and prevention takes a swab from a man to test for the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) in Suifenhe, a city bordering Russia in China’s Heilongjiang province, April 16, 2020. ― Reuters pic
Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - A worker from the city’s centre for disease control and prevention takes a swab from a man to test for the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) in Suifenhe, a city bordering Russia in China’s Heilongjiang province, April 16, 2020. ― Reuters pic

SHANGHAI, Jan 12 — China reported a drop in the number of new Covid-19 cases in the past 24 hours amid a flurry of new measures in Hebei province surrounding Beijing, ranging from home quarantines starting today in one county and a lockdown of the provincial capital.

The National Health Commission said in a statement today that a total of 55 new Covid-19 cases were reported, down from 103 a day earlier. Hebei accounted for 40 of the 42 local infections, with Beijing and northeastern Heilongjiang province reporting one local case each.

The daily case tallies remain a small fraction of what China saw at the height of the outbreak in early 2020, but local authorities are implementing strict curbs whenever new cases emerge in order to prevent a second national wave.

Hebei’s capital Shijiazhuang, a city of 11 million that accounted for 39 of the new Covid-19 cases, has been hardest hit in the latest surge in infections and has been placed under lockdown. The province has shut off certain sections of highways and is ordering vehicles registered to Shijiazhuang to turn back.

Gaocheng district in Shijiazhuang is gathering more than 20,000 people living in 12 remote villages into centralised quarantine as part of the city’s Covid-19 control efforts, state media China News Service reported late yesterday.

Guan county in Hebei also announced that it would implement home quarantine measures between January 12-18 and shut down public transport after reporting one new Covid-19 case.

The quarantine measures apply to all urban and rural residents of the county, with exceptions including party and government staff engaged in epidemic control work, and businesses such as supermarkets and markets providing life necessities.

Authorities in Beijing’s Xicheng district said today that the confirmed Covid-19 patient in Guan county works at a building in the district has been diagnosed with Covid-19.

A new guideline issued by the Beijing Centre for Disease Prevention and Control recommended that taxi and ride-hailing operators suspend car-pooling services, the Communist Party-backed Beijing Daily reported today.

The guideline also said that drivers should get a nucleic acid test for coronavirus every week and be vaccinated, in the absence of any medical issues preventing vaccination, in order to work.

New cases reported in rest of mainland china

Other provinces in China are reporting new confirmed or asymptomatic cases, as well. Heilongjiang province reported 36 new asymptomatic cases in Wangkui county, which already went into a lockdown yesterday after reporting asymptomatic cases.

Authorities do not classify asymptomatic cases as confirmed Covid-19 infections.

Underscoring the risk of the virus spreading, the city of Changchun — the capital of northeastern Jilin province — reported a total of seven new asymptomatic patients on January 11. Four of them travelled to the city from Wangkui recently, and the remaining three were their close contacts.

Residential compounds that these patients lived in were put into lockdown, meaning people and vehicles are not allowed to leave the premises.

And Wuhan, where Covid-19 first emerged in late 2019, Yesterday launched contact tracing work because two confirmed Covid-19 patients reported in Hebei province had been to the city. A restaurant, a business building and three markets visited by one of these individuals were shut as preventative measures.

The number of new asymptomatic cases rose to 81 in the mainland from 76 a day earlier.

The total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases reported in mainland China now stands at 87,591, while the death toll remained unchanged at 4,634. — Reuters

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