Covid-19 Surge In China Causes Concern, Wuhan Authorities To Test All The Residents
China is dealing with its largest Covid-19 outbreak since the coronavirus first appeared in late 2019, with the Delta variant spreading to previously virus-free areas, including the initial epicentre of the pandemic, Wuhan.
The rise in Covid-19 cases in China has continued, spreading to Hubei’s Wuhan, the city known as the ground zero of the pandemic. Authorities in Wuhan said on 3 August that they will test the entire population for novel coronavirus infection after the Chinese city reported first local infections in more than a year.
According to the latest reports, China is dealing with its largest Covid-19 outbreak since the coronavirus first appeared there in late 2019, with the Delta variant spreading to previously virus-free areas, including the initial epicentre of the pandemic, Wuhan. Delta has infiltrated China's virus defences and has spread to over half of the country's 32 provinces in just two weeks. While the overall number of infections is still lower than Covid-19 resurgences elsewhere, the rapid spread of the variant indicates that it is spreading quickly in China.
The AFP reported that on 3 August that a senior city official Li Tao announced that Wuhan, which has a population of 11 million people, is "swiftly launching comprehensive nucleic acid testing of all residents." Officials reported on 2 August that seven locally transmitted cases of Covid-19 were discovered among migrant workers in Wuhan, interrupting a year-long spell of no domestic infections after a strict lockdown in the early months of 2020 crushed the first outbreak.
According to the state-media Global Times, Wuhan authorities said that all schools and tutoring institutions have been urged to cease offline classes and increase campus health monitoring while also speeding up teacher and student vaccinations. In Wuhan, as of now, eight communities have been placed under "closed-off" management and all residents in these localities will be tested, the report said, adding that the city metro has enacted more stringent anti-epidemic regulations.
Over the past year, the country's strong anti-Covid strategies, which include mass testing as soon as a case is discovered, intensive contact tracing, broad use of quarantines and targeted lockdowns, have crushed more than 30 previous outbreaks. But the Delta variant is now challenging China’s efforts to keep the situation under control.
Since much of the country, as per the Chinese authorities, has been Covid-free for months, the new strain may be taking advantage of a relaxation in masking and social distancing in some areas. This, combined with increased summer vacation travel, created an environment in which Delta could establish a foothold.
The deputy director of Beijing's Center for Disease Prevention and Control, Pang Xinghuo has urged visitors to the capital city who had gone from high-risk locations within China or fear that they may have encountered someone infected to notify authorities. Officials also asked locals to limit their travel and if possible, stay in the city for the foreseeable future.
He said: “Cluster outbreaks have occurred one after another around the country and multiple cases have been reported in Beijing, leading to a critical phase in our epidemic response. We can’t let loose a single strand of risk and hidden danger.”
As per Julian Evans-Pritchard, a senior China economist at Capital Economics, “The Delta variant is the biggest test of China’s zero-Covid strategy since the initial outbreak last year.” The expert also added that he believes the country will put an end to the pandemic before it becomes uncontrollable.
In terms of vaccination which is considered to be the best defence against the virus, the majority of Chinese people have received either Sinovac or Sinopharm’s Covid-19 jabs. Even though as per the reports, China has one of the greatest immunisation rates in the world, at nearly 60 per cent, it remains to be seen whether locally developed vaccines can limit the spread of the Delta variant.
Covid-19 originally appeared in Wuhan in December 2019 and scientists say China's tardy response to publicly identify the novel coronavirus has resulted in a global health disaster that is still raging. Dr Li Wenliang, an ophthalmologist in Wuhan, was the first to raise concerns about Covid-19 before it was formally recognised. But he was silenced by the local authorities. However, the coronavirus whistleblower died of the viral sickness in February 2020, triggering significant public outrage at the government.
As of now, China has reported 105,242 Covid-19 cases and over 4,000 fatalities. But the real figures are claimed to be much higher than the official data, according to the National Health Commission. On 3 August, according to the National Health Commission, China has recorded 90 new cases, while on 2 August the country registered 98 cases. In addition, 61 infections were locally transmitted according to the latest case count.
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