China Reports Increase in COVID-19 in Guangzhou, Flights Canceled, Testing Underway
China has reported a sudden increase in COVID-19 infections in the south of the country, with new local cases detected in the city of Guangzhou causing a wave of flight cancellations.
- New infections come from rapidly spreading virus strain detected in India
- Local authorities have announced a temporary halt to the vaccination program to reduce the risk of a new outbreak
- China has a total of 103,021 confirmed COVID-19 cases, while its death toll is 4,846, says Johns Hopkins University
Chinese authorities confirmed yesterday that 11 additional cases of COVID-19 have been detected in the city.
More than 30 cases of local transmission have been detected in the city in recent days. There were no new deaths.
Recent infections in the city were contracted with a rapidly spreading viral strain detected in India according to genome sequencing results, Chen Bin, deputy director of the city’s municipal health commission, said on Sunday in a statement. press conference.
Guangzhou is considered one of the top four mega-cities in China, with a population of over 18.67 million, according to the latest census.
The latest developments mark the first partial foreclosure of a top-tier city since February.
The outbreak has also caused a temporary break in vaccinations in the city.
The increase in the number of cases has led to the cancellation of 519 flights at Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport, according to aviation data provider Variflight.
Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport, which carried 43.8 million passengers last year, was the world’s busiest airport amid a global pandemic.
People leaving the city from airports, train stations and bus stations must show proof of a negative COVID-19 test within three days, unless they are in transit, the city said in a statement Sunday evening.
On Saturday, the Guangzhou government ordered residents of five streets in Liwan District to stay at home and suspended non-essential activities, while entertainment venues and markets were closed.
Asymptomatic cases tested but not counted
China had a total of 103,021 confirmed cases of COVID-19, while its death toll remained unchanged at 4,846, according to the most recent figures from Johns Hopkins University.
Guangzhou resident Zejia Chen, 29, told the ABC that most people stay indoors and life is “okay”.
“In Liwan district, where the current epidemic has started, the whole suburb is in containment,” he said.
“Only one person per household is allowed to go out shopping each day. Everyone follows the rules.
“My friends who live there all work from home and have already taken the COVID tests twice in seven days. “
Mr. Chen said many people have been vaccinated and tests are underway in several districts of Guangzhou.
“Currently there are still many asymptomatic cases, so mass COVID testing is being done in a few districts,” he said.
But Guangzhou Deputy Mayor Ming Li announced a temporary halt to the vaccination program, to reduce the possible risk of a new outbreak and to help focus on large-scale COVID testing.
The city’s immunization program will restart as soon as possible.
Another resident, Xiaozhen Mo, said she expected the whole town to be tested.
She explained that residents could leave Guangzhou but would need proof of negative COVID-19 test.
“As long as you are going to test [and obtain a negative result], your QR code would stay green, ”she said.
“If you need to travel outside of Guangzhou, you will not only need a green QR code, but also a valid COVID test certificate.”
Ms Mo said she was not panicked that it was the variant detected in India that was spreading.
Australian businessman Mike Harding has been in Guangzhou since the start of the pandemic.
There are two cases in two neighborhoods close to where he lives and works, but he is not worried about the current outbreak.
“I witnessed the blockages and checks and the constant wearing of a mask all the time,” he said.
“I have confidence in the local authorities to handle the current epidemic. In fact, the local authorities seem to be handling the current epidemic more seriously than last year, in the sense that they have just issued today compulsory tests in the apartment complex where I live.
“This is the first time that I have to be tested using a swab test, for the duration of COVID. “
The control measures put in place to deal with this outbreak are much less restrictive than during the peak of the pandemic, he said.
“The whole town was on lockdown last year… as such, everyone here is comfortable, I think, because [of what] we’ve been there before, ”he said.
“Last year the apartment complexes were even gated and had very strict entry and exit protocols. This did not happen this time around during the current outbreak and is only limited to to very specific areas of the city. “
Mr. Harding has signed up for a vaccine and is waiting for a spot to become available.
As for the locals, there are long lines for those waiting for a vaccine.
Confidentiality traded for tracing precision
Chinese health care expert Dr Hui Yang of Monash University said China’s pandemic prevention measures emphasized “early intervention.”
“This includes being proactive, performing mass COVID testing, and finding errors quickly and fixing them quickly,” he said.
“This strategy is based on the consensus that it is better to misdiagnose rather than miss a case.”
The country has also favored the possibility of implementing measures quickly, using its centralized governance system.
“This type of system, I think, has some advantages in combating and preventing a pandemic,” Dr Yang said.
“The central government offers unified policies and lower levels of government must obey orders. In an emergency, this system can also mobilize resources and deploy rapid execution.”
In China, their cell phone data has also been used for “more precise contact tracing,” Dr Yang said.
“Therefore, no one could hide their movements,” he said.
“However, the downside to cell phone tracking is that it sacrifices people’s privacy.”
China has also put in place other controls that are not seen elsewhere.
In January, an Australia-based student said she received an anal swab while in quarantine in the city of Guangzhou.
ABC / Reuters