China’s spiraling Delta variant outbreak has reached Wuhan, the original epicenter of the pandemic, prompting citywide coronavirus testing as authorities scramble to contain the city’s first reported local infections in more than a year
China is currently battling its worst outbreak for months. More than 300 cases have been reported in more than two dozen Chinese cities. According to the National Health Commission, there are now 144 high- and medium-risk areas in China, which is the highest number since the initial outbreak in 2020.
Mass domestic travel restrictions have been imposed due to the rapidity and scale of its spread. All inter-city taxi, coach and online car-hailing services are suspended in high- and medium-risk areas. Chinese immigration authorities also pledged to restrict cross-border travel that is not urgent and unnecessary, including tightening passport issuance for Chinese citizens.
Monday saw seven cases of coronavirus infection among migrants in Wuhan. Wuhan is the city in central China where the virus was first discovered in December 2019. As of Wednesday, a total of 20 local infections have been reported, including 8 asymptomatic cases, according to the Hubei provincial health commission.
In January 2020, 11 million people were placed under the most severe coronavirus lockdown. This was at the peak of the virus’s initial spread. The paralyzing 76-day lockdown came at a huge personal cost to residents, but eventually succeeded in taming the virus. Wuhan has not reported any locally transmitted cases of the virus since May 2013.
The Chinese government has hailed Wuhan, despite the initial mishandling. In August 2020, as much of the world grappled with Covid-19, Wuhan made international headlines when it held an electronic music festival in an open air water park, with thousands of people partying without any masks or social distancing measures in sight
Authorities are on high alert now because of the highly contagious Delta variant.
Wuhan started a coronavirus testing campaign in the city on Tuesday. Residents formed long lines at testing sites late into evening. The city has also suspended 17 bus lines and closed a number of subway stations.
“Seeing Wuhan residents panic buying groceries at the supermarket makes me sad.” Only those who have experienced it understand how terrible it is, (we) dread a return to the days of staying at home and not knowing where the next meal is,” said a Wuhan resident on Chinese microblogging site Weibo.
During Wuhan’s initial lockdown, millions of residents were ordered to stay in their homes, relying on officials and volunteers for daily necessities — often at a higher price