Virus risk levels raised in five districts in Urumqi
Tianshan and Sayibak districts of Urumqi, capital of northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, raised their COVID-19 risk levels from low to high on Sunday, while three other districts raised their levels to medium.
Xinjiang reported 13 new cases on Saturday, raising the total number of confirmed cases from Wednesday to Saturday to 30, all in Urumqi, said the regional health commission.
Urumqi has gone into “wartime mode” and launched an emergency response plan.
Broadcaster CCTV cited local officials as telling a press conference on Saturday that the city had suspended gatherings and ordered communities to restrict visits to other households.
It urged people not to make unnecessary trips outside the city and ordered infection tests for anyone who needed to leave Urumqi, aiming to prevent the spread of the virus.
Urumqi has begun to conduct citywide nucleic acid testing in phases after it reported locally transmitted COVID-19 cases recently. Since Friday, the city has conducted nucleic acid tests in communities which had confirmed, suspected or asymptomatic cases, close contacts or patients with a fever. The testing will be conducted in other communities, enterprises and institutions in the second phase, said Zhang Wei, director of the Urumqi health commission.
Testing for everyone under centralized or home medical quarantine finished on Sunday.
The epidemic situation in the city is controllable overall, but the prevention and control situation is grim, Zhang said.
All the confirmed and asymptomatic cases were admitted to the region’s infectious disease hospital. As of Saturday afternoon, there had been no serious cases, according to the commission.
Rui Baoling, director of the disease control and prevention center in Urumqi, said that recent cases in the city were associated with a cluster of activities. “The epidemic has developed rapidly,” Rui said.
Xinjiang, home to most of China’s Uygur ethnic minority, has so far mostly avoided the worst of the coronavirus pandemic.
Urumqi launched an emergency response plan on Friday to analyze confirmed cases and asymptomatic infections, CCTV reported, adding the government would carry out epidemiological investigations to trace the source of the infection in order to make sure no one was missed.
Epidemic control measures in the city have led to the cancelation of more than 600 scheduled flights at Urumqi Diwopu International Airport, or more than 80 percent of the usual daily total, figures from aviation data firm Variflight showed.
Urumqi also suspended subway services from Thursday.
Including the 13 cases in Urumqi, China reported 16 new coronavirus cases on the mainland for July 18, down from 22 a day earlier, the health authority said on Sunday.
The other three, recorded in the southern province of Guangdong and eastern province of Shandong, were imported infection involving travelers from overseas.
The confirmed case in Shandong was an employee from state oil company Sinopec, working in Kuwait, the Qingdao Health Commission in Shandong said. Another eight Sinopec employees on the same flight were also diagnosed as asymptomatic patients.