China records 65 local Covid-19 cases as people flee testing in Chengdu

·3-min read

China reported 65 new local symptomatic Covid-19 cases, up only slightly as some provinces claimed progress in controlling outbreaks – but police were investigating in Chengdu after people fled mandatory testing.

According to the National Health Commission, the present wave of cases had reached 44 cities in 20 provinces, with most concentrated in the northern regions of Heilongjiang, Inner Mongolia and Gansu. Four of those provinces had not recorded any new local transmissions in a week.

The country also recorded 46 new asymptomatic cases and 24 imported infections, while the number of severe cases dropped to 28 from 35 a week ago.

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But in the southwestern city of Chengdu, at least a dozen people were filmed escaping mandatory Covid-19 testing, and an investigation was under way.

Global Centre in the Sichuan provincial capital was sealed off for mandatory testing after a suspected infected person was found to have visited it. However, more than a dozen people scaled fences and trekked through bushes to avoid the testing and potential further restrictions, a video report by Beijing Radio and Television Station said.

“We’re still verifying, and haven’t arrested anyone yet,” a police officer told the station.

China introduced rules in February last year to punish those who breached coronavirus containment rules or spread false information about the pandemic, punishable by up to seven years in prison.

Meanwhile, Henan, one of China’s most populous provinces, aims to “contain and kill” its outbreak in one week, its Communist Party secretary Lou Yangsheng said on Monday.

The province at the weekend recorded the present outbreak’s largest single-day rise in new local infections, from three on Saturday to 18 on Sunday. Most of those had been asymptomatic people under medical observation who ended up developing symptoms. Henan had 24 asymptomatic cases and 1,580 close contacts under medical observation as of Sunday, data from its health commission showed.

To stop transmissions, Lou said Henan would improve contact tracing, and increase monitoring of close contacts and people working in high-exposure environments. Areas subject to lockdown measures would be expanded whenever necessary, led by science, he said.

It followed the Chinese health authorities’ reiterated commitment on Saturday to the country’s zero-tolerance policy towards coronavirus cases. They said it was appropriate for China’s circumstances and was based on science.

China is the only country still fully committed to a zero-Covid strategy, after Singapore, Australia and New Zealand moved away from the approach and said they would loosen restrictions.

Gansu recorded two local cases on Sunday that were already under medical observation. The provincial deputy party secretary Liang Chaoyang hailed local efforts to halt the virus’ spread.

“Our province’s control of the outbreak is steady and continues to improve, achieving a provisional victory,” Liang said. “However, the task of preventing imported cases and stamping out resurgence domestically continues to pose a great challenge.”

More than 120 patients were still receiving treatment in hospitals across Gansu as of Monday, but none had severe illness, according to the provincial authorities.

A video that showed Gansu residents braving the snow to queue to take Covid-19 tests outdoors has gone viral on Chinese social media platforms such as Weibo and Douyin, the country’s version of TikTok, as debate has continued about whether the zero-Covid strategy can or should be sustained.

The video was shared on Weibo by digital media company Diyiyan. One commenter said: “What do you want to say with this video? Show how obedient the people are?”

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