The capital in Northern China’s Hebei province on Tuesday barred its 11 million residents from leaving in a move to curtail the latest spread of the coronavirus that originated in the world’s most populous nation roughly one year ago.
Hebei has entered “wartime mode” to allow investigation teams to conduct contact tracing for those who have tested positive. And the capital, Shijiazhuang, has banned gatherings as a further attempt to curb the spike in new Covid-19 cases.
China’s National Health Commission on Thursday reported 52 local cases, 51 from Hebei. So far, 63 new cases were confirmed across Mainland China, versus 32 a day earlier, Reuters reported Wednesday. A South China Morning Post (SCMP) report said many patients had attended village events over the past three weeks, sparking a concern from health authorities that more Covid cases will appear in coming weeks.
SCMP reported on Tuesday that Hong Kong logged 53 new Covid cases as part of the region’s “fourth wave,” with expectations of possibly more cases due to mass gatherings. Hong Kong is also setting up a command center for Covid-19 contact tracing.
Just over a year ago a pneumonia-like outbreak that surfaced in China’s Wuhan city quickly fractured supply chains and mushroomed into a global pandemic that shuttered nonessential retailers in many parts of the world.
More recently, the U.K. has identified a highly contagious, though likely not more deadly, variant of Covid-19, prompting U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson to mandate a third national lockdown shutting down nonessential businesses. The pandemic has pushed many fashion firms and retailers into insolvency, with many filing for bankruptcy court protection.
And while a number of Big Pharma firms are working on Covid-19 vaccination programs, the rollout is just beginning, meaning that most of the world probably won’t be vaccinated until at least the fall of 2021, if that early.
Some of the latest spike in new cases are from the variant identified in the U.K., although there are now reports that another mutated strain discovered in South Africa is also contributing to the new increase in cases. Reuters said authorities in the Guangdong province in Southern China reported that a patient was infected by the South African variant. While scientists believe that the current vaccines can protect from the U.K. strain, that same conclusion hasn’t yet been confirmed for the South African strain.
The BBC reported on Thursday that a WHO team sent to investigate the origins of Covid-19 in Wuhan were denied access due to visa clearance issued. China has disputed this, noting that details of the visit were still being arranged, BBC reported.
Google’s worldwide Covid case tracker reported more than 87.4 million cases globally, with 48.9 million confirmed recoveries and 1.89 million deaths.