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China imposes local lockdowns as COVID-19 cases rise

BEIJING – China tightened closures and increased orders for mass testing in cities along its east coast on Wednesday amid the latest increase in COVID-19 cases.

Checks have been put in place at toll plazas around the town of Putian in Fujian Province, a dozen of which are completely closed. Neighboring cities of Xiamen and Quanzhou have also restricted movement as the delta variant spreads through the region.

The National Health Commission said on Wednesday that 50 more cases had been diagnosed in various parts of Fujian, most of them in the Putian area.

Since the start of the pandemic, first detected at the end of 2019 in the city of Wuhan, in central China, China has imposed strict tests, lockdowns, quarantines and mask wearing requirements.

Fujian has seen at least 152 new cases in recent days, which has resulted in stay-at-home orders and the closure of entertainment, dining and fitness venues, as well as group activities being canceled, including those for the next mid-autumn vacation.

Long-distance bus service to other parts of the province has been suspended.

China has largely halted the spread of COVID-19, but new outbreaks continue to occur in various parts of the country. A delta variant epidemic in July and August spread to several provinces, raising concerns about new, more contagious variants.

The National Health Commission claims to have administered more than 2 billion doses of the vaccine, although the efficacy of nationally developed sera has been questioned, particularly in the treatment of the delta variant.

While the closures and other harsh measures took a toll on the economy and daily life, most of the country overcame the impact of the initial outbreak.

The authorities are not taking any risks, however. The discovery of a suspected case in the Chaoyang district of eastern Beijing prompted authorities on Wednesday to ban residents of a skyscraper from leaving their apartments, according to the Health Times newspaper published by the Communist Party. in power.

Students and teachers have also been encouraged to avoid travel during the upcoming three-day Mid-Autumn Festival starting on Sunday, as well as the National Day holidays from October 1-7.

“Even with 91% of students and teachers vaccinated nationwide, students are still advised not to leave their home province and be on guard,” said Wang Dengfeng, head of the COVID prevention bureau. -19 at the Ministry of Education. by the official China Daily newspaper.