Anxiety increases as Delta variant spreads in China
A FRESH COVID-19 outbreak in China has spread to more locations, raising concerns in local media over the country’s vulnerability to the highly contagious Delta variant.
More than 300 cases have been detected within a span of 10 days.
Local headlines have been dominated by news on the outbreak, and the country’s top respiratory diseases specialist has reportedly expressed great fear.
As a result, government imposed fresh travel restrictions even though it is unclear how many in China are fully vaccinated, although authorities say more than 1.6 billion doses have been administered so far.
In amidst of the fear, report has it that a total of 15 provinces and municipalities have now confirmed cases, of which 12 are connected to an outbreak that began in Nanjing in China’s eastern Jiangsu province.
Authorities have attributed the spread to the Delta variant and the domestic tourist season.
Although case numbers are considerably lower than other places, it is considered the largest outbreak in months in China, a country that was largely successful in controlling the virus within its borders last year.
Meanwhile, the cases first emerged in July in Nanjing airport, among workers who had cleaned a plane that arrived from Russia.
Authorities promptly tested 9.2 million residents of Nanjing and imposed lockdown on hundreds of thousands of people.
But over the weekend the spotlight turned to popular tourist destination Zhangjiajie in central Hunan province, where many of the latest cases have emerged, noting that travellers from Nanjing were thought to have visited the city recently.
Health officials have zeroed in on a theatre in Zhangjiajie, and are now trying to track down about 5,000 people who attended performances and then travelled back to their home cities.
Report has it that one performance alone had hosted about 2,000 people.
Local media also revealed that all attractions in Zhangjiajie had been closed and tourists were being asked to take a COVID test before leaving the city.
Zhong Nanshan, China’s leading respiratory disease expert, told reporters, “Zhangjiajie has now become the new ground zero for China’s epidemic spread adding that the new outbreak has reached Beijing too, with the city reporting several locally transmitted infections.
He said, the virus had also reached Wuhan, the Chinese city where COVID-19 first emerged, with seven people testing positive for the virus.
According to Chinese state media, the city had seen zero locally transmitted infections since June 2020.