China Locks Down City of 9M

Massive Hong Kong outbreak may have peaked
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 11, 2022 5:23 AM CST
China Locks Down City of 9M
Healthcare workers deliver materials to patients at the makeshift COVID-19 isolation facilities at San Tin area of Hong Kong, Friday, March 11, 2022.   (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

China on Friday ordered a lockdown of the 9 million residents of the northeastern city of Changchun amid a new spike in COVID-19 cases in the area attributed to the highly contagious omicron variant. Residents are required to remain home, with one family member permitted to venture out to buy food and other necessities every two days. All residents must undergo three rounds of mass testing, while non-essential businesses have been closed and transport links suspended. The latest lockdowns, which also include Yucheng with 500,000 people in the eastern province of Shandong, show China is sticking to the draconian approach to the pandemic it has enforced for most of the past two years, despite some earlier indications that authorities would be implementing more targeted measures, the AP reports.

China reported another 397 cases of local transmission nationwide on Friday, 98 of them in Jilin province that surrounds Changchun, a center of the country's auto industry. In the entire province, cases have exceeded 1,100 since the latest outbreak first struck late last week. Just two cases were reported within Changchun itself on Friday, bringing its total to 78 in recent days. Authorities have repeatedly pledged to lock down any community where one or more cases are found under China’s “zero tolerance” approach to the pandemic. Another 93 cases were confirmed in the nearby city of Jilin. Authorities have already ordered a partial lockdown in the city and severed travel links with other cities.

In Hong Kong, where experts say the city’s worst outbreak to date may have peaked, authorities reported 31,392 local infections on Thursday, down from over 50,000 infections the previous day, per the AP. The semi-autonomous Chinese territory has been ordered to follow the “zero tolerance" approach used on the mainland, but a mass-testing plan that was initially expected to occur this month has been put on hold. Hong Kong has seen more than 600,000 infections since the latest wave began at the end of December. (Read more China stories.)

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