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New COVID Peak: China Confines 9 Million People In Changchun City

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China is facing its worst outbreak of Covid-19 in two years and on Friday 11 March was forced to confine the large city of Changchun in the north-east of the country. The 9 million inhabitants of the Chinese city have been placed under lockdown, local authorities announced.

Only one person per household is allowed to go out, once every two days, said the city hall, which is preparing to screen the entire population. This is the largest announced containment in China since the northern metropolis of Xi’an, with its 13 million inhabitants, went into lockdown late last year.

The mayor’s office has ordered the closure of schools and businesses as well as public transport. People are not allowed to leave the city, which has seen several hundred cases in recent days. Changchun, the city of “eternal spring”, is the capital of Jilin province, which borders North Korea. The closed country has so far never reported any cases of Covid-19.

Beijing also announced on Friday that it would introduce the use of rapid antigen tests for Covid-19 for the first time.

China spared for two years

The country, where the virus was first detected at the end of 2019, quickly contained the epidemic from the spring of 2020, by adopting very strict containment measures affecting entire cities. The Asian giant thus managed to largely contain the contagion, with an official toll of just over 100,000 cases, including 4,636 fatalities to be exact, in the space of two years.

But the Omicron strain is causing localised outbreaks that have affected exactly 1,369 people in the past 24 hours, according to health ministry data.

The spike comes as cases spiral out of control in the southern territory of Hong Kong, where hospitals are overflowing with patients and locals are panicking to sell off supermarkets, fearing a lockdown. Chinese authorities fear that potentially infected residents have been smuggled into the mainland from Hong Kong, spreading the contagion.

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