BEIJING (AFP) – China on Friday ordered the lockdown of 9 million residents of the northeastern city of Changchun amid a new spike in COVID-19 cases in the region attributable to the highly contagious omicron variant.
Residents are being asked to stay home, with a family member allowed 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 transportation links suspended.
The recent lockdowns, which also include Yucheng with 500,000 people in eastern Shandong province, show that China is sticking to the strict approach to the epidemic it has imposed for most of the past two years, despite some earlier indications. That the authorities will implement more targeted measures.
China reported another 397 cases of local transmission nationwide on Friday, 98 of them in Jilin Province that surrounds Changchun, the country’s auto hub. In the entire county, cases have passed 1,100 since the latest wave broke out late last week.
Only two cases were reported within Changchun itself on Friday, bringing the total to 78 in recent days. Authorities have repeatedly vowed to lock down any community where there is one or more cases under China’s “zero tolerance” approach to the epidemic.
Another 93 cases were confirmed in the nearby city of Jilin with the same name as the surrounding province. Authorities have already ordered a partial lockdown in the city and cut travel links with other cities.
Officials of Jilin University of Agricultural Science and Technology were fired after a cluster of infections was reported on campus and students complained on social media that those who tested positive were locked up in school libraries and other buildings in poor conditions.
The school has recorded 74 confirmed cases and has moved more than 6,000 people into quarantine, according to state broadcaster CCTV.
Aerial photos showed students in hazmat suits queuing in the cold and darkness, waiting to be transferred.
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