China
on Sunday imposed stay-at-home orders on millions more people in the country’s
northeast as it battles its biggest COVID-19 outbreak in two years.

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

But the
Omicron strain has broken through its defences in recent months and taken hold
in multiple cities.

Jilin, the
second-biggest city in Jilin province, will lockdown about 4.5 million
inhabitants for three days from Monday night, local authorities announced.

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

Changchun,
Jilin province’s capital, said Saturday it would also tighten restrictions for
three days.

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

The new
measures mean only medical personnel and other anti-epidemic workers will be
authorised to leave their homes.

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

Public
transport will resume fully from Monday, alongside some administrative and
business activities, local health authorities said Sunday.

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

Shenzhen is
home to some of China’s biggest tech firms, meaning any curbs on businesses
come at a significant economic cost.

China on
Saturday recorded its first two deaths from COVID in more than a year.

Tens of
millions of people are currently in lockdown in other regions and authorities
are rushing to create hospital beds, fearing the outbreak could put the
healthcare system under strain.

Jilin
province has built eight temporary hospitals and two quarantine centres.

East of the
capital Beijing, the city of Tangshan banned traffic for 24 hours on Sunday in
an effort to slow the virus’ spread — and will test all its 7.7 million
people.

 


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2022-03-20

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