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Nanjing Delta Outbreak Tests China’s Tough Approach to Covid

Nanjing Delta Outbreak Tests China’s Tough Approach to Covid
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Nanjing Delta Outbreak Tests China’s Tough Approach to Covid

Nanjing Delta Outbreak Tests China’s Tough Approach to Covid

For more than a year, Chinese authorities have been pushing back the coronavirus with a proven formula: strict confinements on epidemic sites. Long quarantines for travelers. And city-wide testing when new cases emerge.

But an outbreak of the rapidly spreading Delta variant could challenge China’s zero-tolerance approach to new infections.

In the outbreak, centered in the eastern city of Nanjing, around 200 cases were reported on Friday. But the infections spread quickly, with patients emerging in at least six Chinese provinces and the capital, Beijing, in just three weeks.

As authorities work to contain the spread, the highly infectious Delta variant could prove to be a more difficult enemy than the original version of the virus, which China eradicated with formidable efficiency in 2020. Most Chinese being already vaccinated, the emergence of Delta could also present a test for vaccines made in the country and could force the authorities to take even stricter measures to control the virus.

Chinese officials say they have administered enough doses of the vaccine to cover around 800 million people. But several other countries that have used vaccines made in China have reported that fully vaccinated people continue to be infected, although most do not appear to get seriously ill. The data also indicates that the Delta variant is more easily transmitted, even by those who have received two doses of more effective vaccines, such as those produced by the companies Pfizer and Moderna.

The outbreak in China began when a group of employees at Nanjing airport fell ill around July 10, possibly as a result of exposure to an infected person who arrived on a flight from Russia, according to city ​​officials. Two rounds of city-wide tests on more than eight million people revealed 184 cases.

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To stop the spread, Nanjing has increasingly shut down its services, first closing the airport, then restricting gatherings inside. This week, the city authorities closed parts of the highway that connects Nanjing to other major cities in Jiangsu Province.

While many Nanjing-related cases have surfaced in other provinces, authorities there moved quickly to impose restrictions.

In central Zhangjiajie City, Hunan Province, indoor public spaces, including cinemas and shopping malls, were closed after authorities said four people with the virus, all asymptomatic, went to a performance. in the city. Nearly 200 miles away, in the provincial capital of Changsha, authorities have banned gatherings inside in response to a confirmed case.

In central Sichuan province, where seven cases have been found, authorities have declared parts of the capital, Chengdu, a medium risk area. The discovery of three cases in the northern city of Shenyang prompted authorities to start tracking visitors from other areas affected by epidemics.

The two cases that may be of most concern to authorities are those that emerged in Beijing, where the government has generally followed more stringent prevention policies. Officials said a husband and wife who had traveled from Zhangjiajie tested positive and 654 people who had been in close contact with them had been placed in quarantine.

Li you contributed research.

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