China has quarantined two cities south of Beijing in hopes of stemming the most severe Covid-19 outbreak in six months in the country where the new coronavirus emerged a year ago.
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A total of 18 million residents of the vast townships of Shijiazhuang and Xingtai, which have significant rural areas, have been barred from leaving the area unless there is a compelling reason, following the emergence of a handful of cases. the last days.
Schools are closed as well as means of communication (highways, airport, trains, long-distance coaches) in these two cities of Hebei, the province surrounding Beijing.
National television broadcast images showing police officers blocking road access, as well as fully-dressed caregivers testing residents.
China succeeded last spring in stemming the epidemic that has since spread across the globe, killing nearly 1.9 million people. The country officially counted 4,634 dead, the last counted in May.
But during the past week, Hebei reported 310 infections, including 183 asymptomatic. The country now has 87,000 cumulative cases of contamination over the past year, a figure unrelated to the considerable reports announced in Western countries.
Seventy-two cases were announced in Hebei on Friday for the past 24 hours.
Most of the cases detected were in Shijiazhuang, the provincial capital located 300 km south of Beijing. Further south, nine cases were discovered in neighboring Xingtai commune.
Authorities plan to test all residents of the two towns and 6.7 million of them have already been tested, they said on Friday.
All Hebei residents cannot leave the province unless there is a compelling reason. People in areas closest to Beijing can only enter the capital upon presentation of a negative drug test within three days and proof of residence or work in Beijing.
A provincial official explained that the outbreak was imported from abroad.
Chinese authorities have emphasized in recent months that the new infections correspond to strains from abroad introduced by travelers or on frozen food.