Millions in northeast China placed under COVID-19 control | News on the coronavirus pandemic

The city of Jilin will lock down some 4.5 million people for three days starting Monday to help curb the spread of China’s biggest coronavirus outbreak.

China has imposed stay-at-home orders on millions more people in the northeast of the country as it tries to tackle its biggest coronavirus outbreak in two years.

The country has largely kept the virus at bay since ending its initial outbreak in 2020 using targeted lockdowns, mass testing and travel restrictions.

However, the Omicron strain of COVID-19 has taken hold in several cities across China.

Jilin, the second-largest city in Jilin Province, will lock down around 4.5 million residents for three days from Monday evening, local authorities said.

Residents line up at a makeshift nucleic acid testing site amid snowfall in Changchun, Jilin Province [cnsphoto via Reuters]

More than 4,000 new infections were reported across China on Sunday, two-thirds of them in Jilin province, which borders Russia and North Korea.

Changchun, the capital of Jilin province, said on Saturday it would also tighten restrictions for three days.

On Saturday, China reported its first two deaths from COVID-19 in more than a year. The deaths, both in Jilin province, bring the country’s coronavirus death toll to 4,638 since the start of the pandemic.

Both deaths occurred in elderly patients and were the result of their underlying conditions, Jiao Yahui, an official with the National Health Commission, said at a press conference on Saturday.

One of them had not been vaccinated against COVID-19, she said.

Since March 11, Changchun’s nine million residents have only been allowed out once every two days to buy food.

The new measures mean that only medical staff and other anti-epidemic workers will be allowed to leave their homes.

Location in Shenzhen

Meanwhile, restrictions are being eased in the southern tech hub of Shenzhen, which locked down its 17.5 million people a week ago.

Public transport will fully resume from Monday, alongside some administrative and commercial activities, local health authorities announced on Sunday.

Non-essential businesses will remain closed and Futian’s downtown business district is still under strict anti-COVID measures.

Shenzhen is home to some of China’s biggest tech companies, which means any restrictions on business come at a significant economic cost.

Tens of millions of people are currently confined in other regions and authorities are rushing to create hospital beds, fearing that the epidemic will put a strain on the health system.

East of the capital Beijing, the city of Tangshan banned traffic for 24 hours on Sunday in a bid to slow the spread of the virus, and will test all of its 7.7 million residents.

Earlier this week, President Xi Jinping called for tighter virus checks at ports of entry and stressed the need to “quickly control local cluster outbreaks”.

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