China is currently facing a surge in Covid19 which generating anxieties over the country’s vulnerability to the highly contagious Delta variant.
Within a span of 10 days, more than 300 cases have been recognized .
Chinese media is overwhelmed by news on the outbreak, and the country’s top respiratory diseases specialist has reportedly portrayed serious concern..
The chinese government has imposed fresh travel restrictions and is testing millions of people.
It is uncertain how many people in China are fully vaccinated, although authorities imply more than 1.6 billion doses have been dispensed so far.
A sum of 15 provinces have now verified cases. Cases in 12 of the provinces are pertained to an outbreak that began in Nanjing in eastern Jiangsu province.
Authorities have associated the spread to the Delta variant and the domestic tourism season.
In Zhuzhou, in central Hunan province,
more than a million people have been instructed not to leave home for three days while mass testing and a vaccination drive is organised.
The regional government characterized the situation there as “grim and complicated”.
In other cities entire communities are being spotted under emergency lockdown as cases of the Delta variant emerge.
The outbreak is the largest in China for months. The country was largely successful in regulating the virus within its borders in 2020.
What is the Delta variant?
The first case of the variant happened in July in Nanjing airport, among workers who had tidied up a plane that came from Russia.
Authorities hastily tested 9.2 million residents of Nanjing and imposed lockdown on hundreds of thousands of people.
However, over the weekend the spotlight became popular tourist destination in Zhangjiajie in Hunan province, where many of the latest cases have occurred. Travellers from Nanjing were believed to have visited the city recently.
Health officials have zeroed in on a theatre in Zhangjiajie, and are now trying to locate nearly 5,000 people who attended performances and then travelled back to their home cities.
According to reports, one performance alone had hosted about 2,000 people.
All attractions in Zhangjiajie have been shut down and tourists are being asked to take a Covid test before leaving the city, local media reported..
“Zhangjiajie has now become the new ground zero for China’s epidemic spread,” Zhong Nanshan, China’s leading respiratory disease expert, told reporters.
The new outbreak has reached Beijing too, with the city reporting several locally transmitted infections.
All of Beijing’s air, bus and travel links to areas with positive cases have been cut. All tourists have also been restricted from entering the capital, and officials are only permitting “essential travellers” with negative Covid tests to enter.
The virus has also entered Wuhan, the Chinese city where Covid-19 first happened, with seven people testing positive for the virus. According to Chinese state media, the city had seen zero locally transmitted infections since June 2020.
China is also fighting a rise in cases in Zhengzhou in northern Henan province, which saw ruining floods just last month, as well as Hainan island.
The Global Times newspaper has labeled the outbreak the “most serious since Wuhan”, and in a separate editorial criticised “glaring loopholes” in Covid prevention measures.
“It is absolutely worrying if a single flaw can affect many provinces and regions across the country… it shows that our systematic progress in fighting the epidemic needs to be strengthened,” it said.
The outbreak has put forward concerns about vaccines, as it appeared that some of those infected had been vaccinated.
Shao Yiming, a researcher with China’s Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, told reporters on Saturday that breakthrough infections in vaccinated people “are expected”.
The Sinovac and Sinopharm vaccines – two of the most commonly used jabs in China – have been shown to be 50% to 79% effective in impeding symptomatic Covid infection in clinical trials around the world, but are highly useful in hindering hospitalisations or deaths.