Delta outbreaks in Beijing and Wuhan prompt China’s strictest COVID-19 control measures since 2020

Science & Health

China’s latest COVID-19 outbreak is small in case count but geographically dispersed, with 35 cities reporting infections. The Delta variant has made its way to Beijing and Wuhan, two politically sensitive cities that took strict measures to contain the outbreaks.

illustration of covid test and china
Illustration by Derek Zheng

The highly contagious Delta variant of COVID-19 infected 328 people in China in July, according to state media outlet Xinhua. While this is a tiny number compared with that in most other countries, it is an amount “almost equal to the country’s total number in the previous five months,” per Xinhua — and “all the strains in the recent resurgence” were found to be of the Delta variant, health officials said.

After the outbreak began in the Nanjing Lukou International Airport among workers cleaning an airplane arriving from Russia with an infected passenger, the city recorded 171 cases in less than 10 days, testing the country’s zero tolerance policy for the virus.

  • Nanjing has conducted three rounds of mass testing on its 9.3 million-strong population, and is currently preparing for a more targeted fourth round, Xinhua says.
  • Top epidemiologist Zhōng Nánshān 钟南山 described the outbreak in Nanjing as “generally controllable.”
  • The spread beyond Nanjing has been remarkably wide and fast, however: Cases “have been confirmed in more than 35 cities in 17 of China’s 33 provinces and regions,” according to the Associated Press. See also a graphic in the Global Times tracing the transmission path of the latest outbreak.
  • Today, China reported 61 new cases of COVID-19, per the SCMP.

Two of China’s most politically sensitive cities, with respect to COVID-19, are now dealing with small outbreaks: Beijing and Wuhan.

  • Beijing’s first outbreak in over six month consists of only four infected people, but “some flights, trains and buses to the Chinese capital have been canceled and other control measures [have been] stepped up” to prevent the outbreak from getting bigger, the SCMP reports.
  • Wuhan’s first local infections in over a year number just three, but authorities are taking no chances, ordering blanket testing of all 12 million residents and sealing off “parts of an industrial and technology zone,” Reuters reports.

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