China puts northeast city of Shulan under lockdown, as Wuhan reports new virus outbreak

Domestic News
Shanghai Disneyland reopened its gates on Monday, May 11, even as virus clusters emerged in Wuhan and the northeastern city of Shulan, Jilin Province.
/ Credit: REUTERS/Aly Song

Sporadic, but persistent, outbreaks of the coronavirus are becoming China’s new normal. As the country largely returns to work — business resumption is around 86% now, according to Trivium — and movie theaters and other public venues are slowly allowed to reopen, infections are flaring up and localized lockdowns are being imposed.

A new outbreak in Jilin, the neighboring province of Heilongjiang in northeastern China that had its own virus outbreak last month seeded from Russia, illustrates this problem. Sixth Tone reports:

Health authorities in Jilin Province announced Friday that Shulan, a city of 630,00 people, had identified one confirmed COVID-19 case: a 45-year-old woman. Two days later, the local government reported that 11 more people had tested positive for COVID-19, all of them close contacts of the woman.

Following the announcements, Shulan adjusted its coronavirus risk level from low to medium, then medium to high. Residential communities were put under lockdown in a bid to curb the spread of the virus, with new measures including closing schools and resuming online classes, as well as prohibiting gatherings such as dinners at restaurants.

As of Monday, Shulan is the only “high-risk” city or region in China.

These cases were the first local infections in 73 days in Jilin Province, with all others in that period being imported from abroad. What’s on Weibo reports on how the alarming news was received: “One page on social media platform Weibo dedicated to the topic of Shulan going into ‘wartime mode’ (战时状态 zhànshí zhuàngtài) had received over 190 million views by Monday evening local time.”

Additionally, Wuhan has reported a new cluster of six cases all from a single residential compound in the city, per AFP. The SCMP reports that a local official named Zhāng Yǔxīn 张宇新 was “sacked for his poor control of the disease in the community.” The FT notes (paywall) that among the six cases, five of them “were previously classified as asymptomatic.” Wuhan now “plans to conduct city-wide nucleic acid testing over a period of 10 days, according to an internal document,” Reuters reports.

As these clusters emerged, Shanghai Disneyland sold out of entrance tickets for its first day of reopening today. With capacity limits and social distancing rules enforced, patrons were “low in numbers but high in spirits,” Sixth Tone reports. Gizmodo also published an article with photos of what the park looked like on Monday. SupChina’s Shannon Van Sant wrote last week about what the reopening of Disney’s first theme park in the world meant for the company.