CORRESPONDENT IN SHANGHAI
Not even China, which had the coronavirus under control, is spared outbreaks in winter. Breaking the normality that was breathed since the summer, New locally transmitted infections have returned alarm to Beijing and to the northeastern province of Liaoning. While in Beijing thirteen cases have been detected in the last ten days, in Liaoning there are already 34 confirmed patients and 29 asymptomatic, distributed between the port city of Dalian and its capital, Shenyang.
Although officially there are not many, the authorities have once again acted forcefully, carrying out massive tests, confining urbanizations and imposing restrictions. While in Dalian five million people have been tested for nucleic acid since the middle of the month, two districts of Beijing have had more than a million tests and a state of emergency has been declared “in time of war”, reinforcing controls and limiting movements. Measures so drastic that they cast doubt on the official figures and suspect that they are higher.
“There have been many sporadic outbreaks. The situation of controlling the epidemic is complicated. All districts, all agencies and units must enter a state of emergency response and fight more decisively and with stricter rules to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, “the Beijing municipal authorities warned this Sunday, according to the” South China Morning Post “newspaper.
In addition to recovering the temperature controls and QR health codes, which had been relaxed in recent months, the capacity has been limited to 75 percent in parks, monuments, transport and entertainment venues in Beijing. Unless strictly necessary, the authorities have recommended avoiding gatherings and even leaving the city during the holiday weekend of January 1 and, especially, on the occasion of the Lunar New Year, which in 2021 falls on February 12 and it is the most important and longest vacation in China. Said recommendation becomes mandatory for public officials and, “de facto”, Also for families with children in school, as teachers insist that they not travel to other cities to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 disease. If the situation worsens in the next few days, even the winter holidays could be brought forward without waiting for the Chinese New Year.
That date is especially dangerous because hundreds of millions of people travel in the two weeks before and after the Spring Festival, as it is called in Mandarin. They are mostly rural migrants working in big cities and factories and they return by train to their villages with their families.But there are also millions of middle-class Chinese who, unable to go abroad due to the pandemic, went to do domestic tourism as in the previous holidays for National Day in October and Labor Day in May. With these outbreaks, many fear being confined like at the beginning of the year, when the epidemic broke out in Wuhan on January 23, two days before the Spring Festival.
Medical experts had already warned that there could be outbreaks in winter despite the control of the coronavirus in China, which has its borders closed to several countries and requires negative tests and a two-week quarantine arriving nationals and foreign residents. After these outbreaks, the authorities fear that the asymptomatic will spread the Covid-19 disease with their Lunar New Year movements, which are the largest mass movement in the world.
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