Lockdown Coming? Southern China Shuts Schools over Flu

Primary school students salute at the Yuhuatai Martyrs Monument in Nanjing, East China's J
CFOTO/Future Publishing via Getty Images

Schools in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong suspended classes on Thursday due to an influenza outbreak, an uncomfortable reminder of the punishing lockdowns that were used across the country during the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic.

Guangdong officials insisted the influenza surge was a seasonal event, possibly exacerbated by damp weather and the resurgence of a long-dormant flu strain.

China’s state-run Global Times portrayed the rash of H1N1 influenza cases in Guangdong as a somewhat surprising surge in an otherwise predictable spring fever season. H1N1 has been a relatively uncommon strain of flu since the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak, so regional health authorities suggested the Guangdong population has reduced immunity against it.

“Schools, nursery institutes and nursing homes are key places for tracing influenza cases. Some schools have suspended their classes for four days in accordance with health monitoring as a response,” said health officials in the Guangdong city of Zhuhai.

Primary school students line up at a playground for nucleic acid testing in Anyang, Henan province, China, Nov 8, 2022. (Photo credit should read CFOTO/Future Publishing via Getty Images)

Primary school students line up at a playground for nucleic acid testing in Anyang, Henan province, China, November 8, 2022. (CFOTO/Future Publishing via Getty Images)

According to the Global Times, parents have complained about the rising number of students getting sick at school, including some who required hospitalization. One Guangzhou hospital reported seeing over 400 pediatric patients a day, which is about four times the usual caseload.

The Chinese paper cited government reports that said the rate of influenza cases in the southern provinces is already slowing, but schools were closed for four days as a precaution.

The Chinese Communist Party stubbornly insisted citywide lockdowns, a policy directly attributed to dictator Xi Jinping, were effective and would continue indefinitely — until the lockdowns were suddenly abandoned in December after massive nationwide protests. Last month, the Communist Party began sending unsubtle signals to both Chinese industrialists and foreign investors that lockdowns would never be attempted again.

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