China yesterday imposed a strict lockdown on nearly half a million people near the capital to contain a fresh COVID-19 cluster as authorities warned the outbreak was still “severe and complicated.”
After China largely brought the virus under control, hundreds have been infected in Beijing and cases have emerged in Hebei Province.
Health officials said that Anxin County — about 150km from Beijing — would be “fully enclosed and controlled,” the same strict measures imposed at the height of the pandemic in the city of Wuhan earlier this year.
Only one person from each family would be allowed to go out once a day to purchase necessities, such as food and medicine, the county’s epidemic prevention task force said in a statement.
Earlier, the county had been subject to some travel restrictions, but now individuals are only allowed to leave their homes to seek medical treatment, the notice said.
The move came after another 14 cases of the virus were reported in the past 24 hours in Beijing, taking the total to 311 since the middle of this month.
The new outbreak was first detected in Beijing’s sprawling Xinfadi wholesale food market, which supplies much of the city’s fresh produce, and sparked concerns over the safety of the food supply chain.
Businesses in Anxin county had supplied freshwater fish to the market, the official Xinhua news agency reported.
About 12 cases of the novel coronavirus were found in the area, including 11 linked to Xinfadi market, the state-run Global Times reported.
The new cases in Beijing have prompted fears of a resurgence of the virus in China.
The capital has mass-tested wholesale market workers, restaurant workers, residents of medium and high-risk neighborhoods and delivery couriers over the past week.
Testing has now expanded to include all employees of the city’s beauty parlors and hair salons, the Global Times said.
“There is no room for us to relax,” Beijing city spokesman Xu Hejian (徐鶴健) said on Saturday.
City officials have urged people not to leave the capital, closed schools again and locked down dozens of residential compounds to stamp out the virus.
However, Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention chief epidemiologist Wu Zunyou (吳尊友) last week told reporters that the new outbreak had been “brought under control,” and officials lifted a weeks-long lockdown imposed on seven communities in Beijing on Friday.
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