Beijing reports first Covid case in 179 days as alarm grows over Nanjing Delta cluster

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By Jessie Yeung, CNN

Beijing recorded its archetypal Covid-19 lawsuit successful astir six months connected Wednesday, arsenic Chinese authorities scramble to forestall the dispersed of the Delta variant amid an outbreak linked to an airport in the populous eastbound metropolis of Nanjing.

China recorded 49 caller cases connected Wednesday, including 24 section infections from 3 further provinces, according to the National Health Commission (NHC), taking the full fig of cases associated with the caller clump to astatine slightest 175.

Though the latest number marks a flimsy driblet from the 86 cases recorded Tuesday — the highest azygous time summation since January — the virus’ dispersed crossed provincial borders is sparking alarm among the country’s leaders, aft much than a twelvemonth of debased lawsuit numbers and resumed regular life.

The coronavirus was archetypal detected successful the cardinal Chinese metropolis of Wuhan successful precocious 2019, rapidly spreading crossed China and the world. Yet contempt being the archetypal state to succumb to the virus, China has since managed to successfully incorporate its spread. Since March 2020, the authoritative lawsuit figures person remained low, and occasional flare-ups person been rapidly contained with wide investigating and terrible restrictions, including wide lockdowns of hundreds of millions of radical crossed the country.

The existent outbreak, however, poses a caller threat, with the much transmissible Delta variant identified successful the eastbound metropolis of Nanjing, superior of Jiangsu state and a large concern and transport hub location to much than 9.3 cardinal people.

It volition besides beryllium a trial of the efficacy of China’s monolithic vaccination program, which has administered much than 1.5 cardinal doses truthful acold — a standard and velocity unrivaled by immoderate different state successful the world.

Other countries successful the region, including Thailand and Australia, person besides been deed by the Delta variant and are presently battling outbreaks. But these countries person besides struggled with a slow vaccination rollout beset by delays and shortages. This is successful crisp opposition to China, which is connected way to scope its extremity of achieving so-called “herd immunity” — the constituent astatine which capable radical person either been infected oregon vaccinated to extremity assemblage transmission — by December this year.

Airport clump

The latest outbreak archetypal emerged past week aft much than a twelve cases were detected among cleaning unit astatine Nanjing Lukou International Airport. It prompted officials to motorboat wide investigating for much than 9 cardinal residents starting July 21; a 2nd circular of wide investigating was completed implicit the weekend, and a 3rd circular began connected Wednesday.

So far, astatine slightest 175 cases are connected to the airdrome cluster, which officials person linked to the much infectious Delta variant.

“The caller spike successful infections successful the metropolis tin beryllium attributed to the peculiar determination of the outbreak and the highly contagious quality of the (Delta) strain,” said Ding Jie, vice manager of Nanjing’s halfway for illness power and prevention, astatine a quality conference, authorities media reported Tuesday.

Despite the accelerated and assertive investigating campaign, the microorganism appears to person already dispersed beyond Jiangsu province.

Infections person been reported among travelers who flew from Nanjing to different parts of the country, according to state-run quality bureau Xinhua, including the provinces of Guangdong successful the south, Sichuan successful the southwest and Liaoning successful the northeast.

Nanjing Lukou International Airport is among China’s busiest airports, and handled much than 30 cardinal passengers successful 2019, according to Chinese authorities.

On Wednesday, state-run tabloid Global Times reported that the airdrome would look to suspend each flights until August 11, citing an insider source. Nanjing airdrome authorities told CNN that each flights person been canceled since Monday for disinfection works, and would resume erstwhile the process is finished. They did not accidental erstwhile that would apt hap and determination has been nary authoritative announcement relating to the cancellation.

‘Whole country’ astatine risk

Concern is besides increasing implicit a imaginable secondary cluster, connected to a fashionable unrecorded amusement successful Zhangjiajie nationalist parkland successful Hunan province. Three confirmed cases successful the metropolis of Dalian, Liaoning province, are thought to person visited Nanjing airdrome earlier traveling to Zhangjiajie for the unrecorded amusement past week, according to authorities media outlet, The Paper.

More than 3,000 spectators watched the unrecorded amusement successful adjacent quarters connected July 22. The Beijing lawsuit is among those linked to the unrecorded show, ending the capital’s 179-day tally without immoderate reported infections.

The Zhangjiajie city authorities sent retired a announcement connected Wednesday, informing those who attended the amusement they were “high risk” and needed to self-quarantine and trial for infection.

In a uncommon nationalist amusement of concern, a fig of high-ranking provincial enactment leaders, governors and wellness officials met connected Wednesday greeting successful Jiangsu to sermon the outbreak. In a quality release posted connected their site, the Provincial Committee of the Communist Party of China acknowledged the existent outbreak was “severe,” and said the Nanjing clump could power the “whole country.”

The connection urged stronger prevention and containment measures, including “closed communities and enclosed areas” — a striking telephone to reimpose restrictions much than a twelvemonth aft China relaxed its nationwide lockdown and reopened businesses.

Some parts of Nanjing are present nether “high” Covid hazard alert, portion different areas person been raised to “medium.”

Under these caller restrictions, indoor venues similar cinemas, gyms and bars person closed, ample gatherings person been reduced, and authorities are urging radical to cancel “non-essential” events. Airport employees are facing restricted movement; the metropolis has besides stepped up wellness monitoring measures and investigating for high-risk groups similar taxi drivers and information guards.

The metropolis has besides built six makeshift investigating sites successful accumulation centers and bid stations, with a maximum capableness of investigating 7 cardinal radical per day, according to authorities broadcaster CCTV.

Pharmacies person been ordered to suspend the merchantability of over-the-counter medicine for fever and cough, that could perchance suppress oregon fell Covid symptoms. Residential complexes successful the metropolis person besides tightened their rules by barring the introduction of transportation services.

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