Faced with the worst epidemic outbreak in two years, China had to decide on Friday, March 11, to contain the large city of Changchun, in the northeast of the country. The 9 million residents of the Chinese city have been locked up, local authorities announced.
Only one person per household is allowed outside once every two days, according to the town hall, which is preparing to screen the entire population. This lockdown is the largest announced in China since that of the metropolis of Xi’an, in the north of the country, and its 13 million inhabitants at the end of last year.
The town hall ordered the closure of schools, shops and public transport. It is forbidden to leave the city, which has registered several hundred cases in recent days. Changchun, the city of “Eternal Spring”, is the capital of Jilin Province, which borders North Korea. This closed country has never reported a case of Covid-19 so far.
In addition, China announced on Friday that it would introduce the use of rapid antigen testing for Covid-19 for the first time. The National Health Commission has clarified that self-test kits will be available for purchase to hospitals and citizens of: “retail pharmacies, online sales platforms and other channels”†
China, saved for two years
The country, where the virus was first discovered in late 2019, quickly contained the epidemic in spring 2020 by implementing very strict containment measures affecting entire cities. The Asian giant has thus managed to largely stop the infection, with an official number of just over 100,000 cases, including 4,636 deaths exactly, in a span of two years. The communist regime sees in this the superiority of its authoritarian system compared to the many deaths recorded by democratic countries.
But according to Department of Health data, the Omicron tribe is the source of localized outbreaks involving exactly 1,369 people in the past 24 hours on Friday.
A balance that remains low compared to the rest of the world, yet is the highest for China since the first phase of the epidemic, early 2020. Of this total, the authorities counted 158 imported cases and 814 asymptomatic cases , which are the subject of a separate count.
The spike comes as cases spiral out of control in the southern territory of Hong Kong, where hospitals overflow with patients and locals panic rob supermarkets, fearing lockdown. Chinese authorities fear that potentially infected residents may have been smuggled from Hong Kong to the mainland, spreading the infection.
Online Courses in Shanghai
However, the authorities did not allow the “zero Covid” strategy to be abolished during the Parliament’s annual session that ended on Friday. ‘We must constantly refine the measures’ against the epidemic, the Prime Minister, Li Keqiang, simply said during a speech on the river before the delegates on March 5.
Many parts of the country are now facing tougher anti-epidemic measures, including Shanghai, China’s most populous city of 25 million, where students are now required to take their classes online.
Municipalities have tried in recent months to impose targeted measures, imposing strict detentions only in a few neighborhoods or places where cases have been registered. It happens that people get stuck in their workplace or in restaurants while waiting to be screened. Waiting for the result can take up to forty-eight hours.