China battles rising wave of COVID-19 across dozens of cities

Schools move online in the eastern coastal city of Qingdao, with police closing down highways in the area.
By Qiao Long and Chingman
2022.03.10
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China battles rising wave of COVID-19 across dozens of cities Residents queue to undergo tests for the Covid-19 coronavirus in Shenyang in China's northeastern Liaoning province, March 9, 2022.
AFP

Health authorities in China said on Thursday they are battling a rising wave of COVID-19 infections across 31 provinces and cities, with more than 500 newly confirmed cases in the last 24 hours.

The National Health Commission said more than 400 cases were locally transmitted, and clustered in the northeastern province of Jilin, the eastern province of Shandong and the western province of Gansu.

Roads were blocked and residential areas placed under lockdown in 16 provinces and cities on Thursday.

A resident of Shandong's Qingdao city who gave only the nickname John said there were 66 newly confirmed cases in the province, and that an expressway had been closed in the vicinity of Laixi, one of the hardest-hit areas, which is administered by Qingdao.

"The epidemic in Qingdao is in Laixi, where a number of school students were infected," John told RFA. "The source of the infection is still unclear, so security is very tight everywhere."

"All highways in Laixi are closed, and schools have been closed on a large scale, and all classes are now online," he said. "The schools in the area where I live are also closed."

The local government has expanded mass compulsory PCR testing after failing to trace the source of the local outbreak.

Meanwhile, Shenzhen resident Zhang Hai said the city had reported 15 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases during the past 24 hours, with five new cases reported in Dongguan.

"The fundamental reason is that there is no truthful, open, impartial and independent investigation that can take place," Zhang said of the ongoing outbreak, which comes despite the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP)'s insistence on a zero-COVID strategy.

"If this issue is not clarified, how can you control the spread of the virus?" he said.

A resident undergoes a nucleic acid test for the Covid-19 coronavirus in Jilin in China's northeastern Jilin province, March 9, 2022. Credit: AFP
A resident undergoes a nucleic acid test for the Covid-19 coronavirus in Jilin in China's northeastern Jilin province, March 9, 2022. Credit: AFP
Tests, closures

A video clip uploaded by a resident of Guangzhou, the provincial capital of Guangdong, showed long lines of people waited for PCR tests in the city.

"All staff are undergoing PCR tests now, and they are waiting in line here on Shipu Road," the person shooting the video comments.

In another online video clip, authorities ask residents waiting in line to show their smart ID cards and mobile phones.

"Show your ID cards, your smart phones, and go to Shanghuatou Square," they call out to those waiting.

Authorities in the eastern province of Zhejiang issued a "non-essential stay at home" order for residents of some parts of Yongjia county, with all public places closed and all gatherings canceled across the city of Wenzhou.

Jiangsu resident Zhang Jianping said he was asked by security to show a negative PCR test to get into a court building in Jiangsu's Wuxi city on Thursday.

"The court said today that they want me to show more than two PCR test reports [after] I came to Wuxi from Changzhou," he said. "They refused to let me inside."

More than 165 cases of COVID-19 were newly confirmed in Jilin, 134 of which were in Jilin city and 23 in Changchun city, with officials contacting thousands of people in a bid to track the spread of the infections.

Four new cases were reported in Shanghai since March 9, with 76 asymptomatic infections. Authorities in the city's Xuhui district have ordered public spaces including cultural, tourist and entertainment venues to close temporarily to halt the spread of the virus.

Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.

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