New local COVID-19 infections more than doubled in China’s Fujian Province, health authorities said yesterday, prompting officials to quickly roll out measures including travel restrictions to halt the spread of the virus.
China’s National Health Commission yesterday reported 59 new locally transmitted cases, up from 22 infections a day earlier. All of them were in Fujian Province.
In just four days, a total of 102 community infections have been reported in three cities in the province, including Xiamen, a tourist and transport hub with a population of 5 million.
The infections come ahead of the week-long National Day holiday starting on Oct. 1, a major tourist season.
The previous domestic outbreak disrupted travel, hitting the tourism, hospitality and transportation sectors.
China’s air passenger traffic plunged 51.5 percent last month from a year earlier, data released yesterday showed.
Fujian’s outbreak began in Putian, a city of 3.2 million, with the first case reported on Friday last week.
Preliminary tests on samples from some Putian cases showed patients had contracted the highly transmissible Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2.
The outbreak has since spread south to Xiamen, which yesterday reported 32 new cases of community transmission compared with just one infection a day earlier.
“The Putian government is a big client of ours,” said an employee at a Xiamen building survey firm, declining to be named. “About half of our company went to Putian last week. They are now isolated at home, while the rest have gone to do their COVID-19 tests.”
Like Putian, Xiamen has locked down some high-risk areas, cut classes at kindergartens and schools, closed public venues such as cinemas, gyms and bars, and told residents not to leave the city for non-essential reasons.
The first patient in the Xiamen cluster was a close contact of a case in Putian, Xiamen authorities said late on Monday.
Known for its mild weather and a laid-back lifestyle, Xiamen is a popular tourist destination domestically.
Xiamen Gaoqi International Airport is also a key transportation hub linking the Yangtze and Pearl River Delta. About 60 percent of flights to and from Xiamen were canceled yesterday, according to aviation data provider Variflight.
Both Putian and Xiamen began testing for COVID-19 yesterday.
Three new cases of community transmission were also reported in nearby Quanzhou city, versus six infections a day earlier.
Variflight data showed that 70 percent of Quanzhou’s flights were canceled.
“One wave after another,” a bank manager in Xiamen said. “It feels like the new normal now.”
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