Fujian city shuts down over COVID-19 outbreak
A city in southeastern China that is trying to contain a coronavirus outbreak told the public on Sunday not to leave town, suspended bus and train service, closed cinemas, bars and other facilities.
Anyone who needs to leave Putian, a city of 3.2 million people in Fujian Province, must provide proof of a negative coronavirus test within the past 48 hours, the city government announced.
China has brought the coronavirus under control in early 2020 but has suffered periodic outbreaks of the more contagious Delta variant. Authorities say most cases are traced to travelers arriving from foreign countries.
By 4pm Sunday, Putian had reported 32 new confirmed cases that were believed to have been acquired locally since the first infection was found on Friday, according to the local government. There were also 32 asymptomatic cases.
One was reported in Quanzhou city, also in Fujian.
The Putian government said the viral genome sequencing of 19 cases has preliminarily identified the strains as the highly infectious Delta variant.
The first cases in Putian were students from Xianyou County. Experts suspect the outbreak might have originated after the father of a student returned from Singapore on August 4, according to the Global Times newspaper.
The traveler, identified by his surname Lin, underwent a 14-day quarantine and nine nucleic acid and serologic tests, all of which were negative, the newspaper reported, citing local authorities. But he tested positive on Friday.
Xianyou County has classified Fengting Town as a high-risk area. Residents of villages where the infections were found have been barred from leaving the town.
The COVID-19 response headquarters of Xianyou has advised residents to work from home and wear masks on public transportation. Authorities have also banned large gatherings.
Long-distance bus and train service to Putian was suspended on Saturday, Global Times said.
Elsewhere in Putian, cinemas, card rooms, gyms, tourist sites and other facilities were ordered closed, the city government announced. Restaurants and supermarkets were told to "strictly control" customer numbers and to check for fevers. Primary and high schools as well as kindergartens were ordered to move classes online.
The National Health Commission on Saturday dispatched a working group to guide the COVID-19 prevention and control efforts in Putian.
China has reported 4,636 coronavirus deaths out of 95,199 confirmed cases by Saturday.