China: Coronavirus Surge Leaves 11 Regions Under Lockdown

A man gets a swab for the coronavirus test at a hospital in Beijing, Sunday, Jan. 17, 2021. The coronavirus was found on ice cream produced in eastern China, prompting a recall of cartons from the same batch, according to the government. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
AP Photo/Andy Wong

Government officials in China have sealed off at least 11 regions across three provinces to curb the spread of a Chinese coronavirus “resurgence,” state media reported on Monday.

“Northeast China’s Heilongjiang sealed off at least five regions – Zhaodong, Qinggang, Suihua city’s downtown area, Angangxi district in Qiqihar and Hulan district in Harbin. Local residents are required to stay in their homes and vehicles are prohibited on roads. Exit and entry roads are also closed off,” according to the Chinese Communist Party newspaper Global Times. “The cities of Gongzhuling and Tonghua in Northeast China’s Jilin are also in de facto lockdowns.”

“[F]our regions in North China’s Hebei Province have also been sealed off – Longyao county, Gu’an county, Nangong and the provincial capital Shijiazhuang,” the newspaper added.

Although local governments did not describe the restrictions on movement explicitly as “lockdowns,” the affected regions are “adopting measures similar to lockdowns, which usually mean residents are asked not to go out, vehicles are prohibited on roads and routes into the region are strictly controlled,” the Global Times noted.

Provincial health authorities are carrying out mass testing for the Chinese coronavirus in the locked-down areas, as well as other towns. Health officials in the northeastern city of Jilin reported “34 confirmed cases and 80 asymptomatic patients” of the Chinese coronavirus as of Monday, according to the newspaper. The northern province of Hebei, which surrounds the national capital, Beijing, “reported a total of 54 confirmed and six asymptomatic cases” on January 18. “Heilongjiang reported seven confirmed and 81 asymptomatic cases,” as of the same date.

“Since Jan. 2, Shijiazhuang has registered 745 locally-transmitted confirmed COVID-19 [Chinese coronavirus] cases, including one death, and 12 of them have been discharged from hospital after recovery,” China’s state-run press agency, Xinhua, reported on January 18. Shijiazhuang is the capital of Hebei province and was one of the first municipal regions to report a new surge in coronavirus cases this month. Government authorities “sealed off” Shijiazhuang and its surrounding villages starting January 5.

News of the widespread lockdowns and testing across China comes amid reports that the federal government is scrambling to build new hospitals designed exclusively for Chinese coronavirus patients.

The Chinese government on January 16 claimed to finish construction on a 1,500-room hospital in Nangong, located south of Beijing. The hospital, the Communist Party alleged, was reportedly built in five days and is one of six hospitals being constructed in Nangong. The combined facilities will create 6,500 rooms in the city for coronavirus patients. Roughly 650 people are currently being treated for the Chinese coronavirus in Nangong and Shijiazhuang, according to Xinhua on Saturday. The federal government is currently overseeing the construction of a 3,000-room hospital in Shijiazhuang.

China’s National Health Commission said on January 16 that the government is struggling to contain the new coronavirus outbreaks, as they are spreading at an exceptionally high rate.

“It is harder to handle,” a Commission statement said. “Community transmission already has happened when the epidemic is found, so it is difficult to prevent,” the national health body added before blaming the surge in infections on imported cases.

Despite the fact that the outbreaks began erupting about two weeks after widespread mass events for New Year’s Eve nationwide, Chinese officials have blamed the resurgence on foreigners.

“They are all imported from abroad. It was caused by entry personnel or contaminated cold chain imported goods,” the National Health Commission’s statement claimed.

The rapid construction of Chinese coronavirus hospitals in recent days echoes China’s efforts early last year at the start of the nation’s coronavirus outbreak in the central city of Wuhan. The Chinese government built and opened a 1,000-bed field hospital within two weeks in early 2020 to treat coronavirus patients in Wuhan after local clinics ran out of beds for the then-soaring number of new cases.

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