After Floods, China's Zhengzhou Hit by Surge in Delta Coronavirus Cases

Parts of the city are under lockdown as the authorities launch another city-wide wave of COVID-19 testing.
By Man Hoi Yan, Lu Xi
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After Floods, China's Zhengzhou Hit by Surge in Delta Coronavirus Cases A woman receives a nucleic acid swab test for coronavirus at a testing center in Zhengzhou, central China's Henan province, July 31, 2021.

Authorities in the central Chinese province of Henan have launched mass testing operations following a surge in COVID-19 cases in the wake of disastrous flooding that hit the region last month.

The flood-hit provincial capital Zhengzhou announced partial lockdown measures after reporting more than 100 confirmed local cases, including a doctor from the Zhengzhou No. 6 People's Hospital, which has been under lockdown due to a cluster of cases from July 31, state media reported.

"This case fully demonstrated that the Delta variant [of COVID-19] is highly infectious, hard to detect, and has untypical initial symptoms, which puts forward higher requirements on our testing, detection, and reporting of the virus," deputy leader of the Zhengzhou government Li Huifang told a news conference at the weekend.

"The doctor from the Zhengzhou No. 6 People's Hospital had eight PCR tests, the first seven of which came back negative," Li said. "The positive result was on Aug. 6."

Li announced further rounds of mass PCR testing to try to contain the outbreak, following city-wide PCR tests of 10.83 million people between July 31 and Aug. 6.

Residential communities in the city are being locked down, with ID and body temperature checks at the gates, in a bid to reduce the number of people moving in and out, the municipal government said in a directive at the weekend.

Residents in high-risk areas are being ordered to stay home, while residents in the hospital are also in quarantine.

Households may designate a single person to go out and buy daily necessities.

"For every person infected, 10 others will be tested, tested again, and reconfirmed," a resident surnamed Guo told RFA.

"Of course I am a bit worried, so I am trying to stay away from other people," he said.

He said the lockdowns had come hard on the heels of widespread flooding that left the ground floors of many buildings under water, with the pumps running for around a week before the water was clear.

"I can't see this outbreak going away any time soon," Guo said.

'We don't feel very safe'

A resident surnamed Jiang said few people were out and about in the market when she went.

"There are good supplies of vegetables and daily necessities in the supermarket right now," Jiang said. "But we don't feel very safe going out, because we are afraid of groups of people gathered together."

"These asymptomatic infections are particularly troubling," she said. "We shop for everything in one go, so we don't need to go out every day."

"First the floods, and now the pandemic," she said.

A video clip circulating on social media showed police and other personnel bursting into the home of an elderly man, pressing him to the ground, and forcing open his mouth to take a swab.

Another video showed people who had been in Zhengzhou during the outbreak saying they had been denied entry to Beijing.

"We have received orders not to allow anyone into Beijing from high- or medium-risk areas," a police officer says on the video.

Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.


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