World

China steps up Covid-19 curbs in Hebei province as infections rise

BEIJING: Chinese authorities yesterday imposed travel restrictions and banned gatherings in the capital city of Hebei province, which surrounds Beijing, in the latest escalation of measures to stave off another coronavirus wave.

The province, which entered a "wartime mode" on Tuesday, accounted for 20 of the 23 new locally transmitted cases reported in China on Tuesday, more than the total of 19 cases in the province in the three previous days.

Hebei also accounted for 43 of 64 new asymptomatic cases.

Hebei's capital, Shijiazhuang, a city of 11 million that reported 19 confirmed and 41 asymptomatic cases, ramped up countermeasures.

It will require all travellers to present a negative nucleic acid Covid-19 test within the past 72 hours before boarding a train or a plane, the Shijiazhuang Zhengding International Airport said yesterday.

The city has also launched a mass testing drive, shut its main long-range bus terminal, banned gatherings and ordered residential compounds to keep out non-residents.

The head of China's National Health Commission led a team to the city on Tuesday, the official Xinhua news agency said.

The total number of new cases, including those originating overseas, fell to 32 from 33 a day earlier - a small fraction of what China saw at the height of the outbreak that emerged from the city of Wuhan in late 2019.

China continues to take aggressive measures to prevent another wave of the disease that has killed 4,634 people in the country and nearly 1.9 million globally.

The authorities in Dalian, in Liaoning province where new local infections have been reported in recent days, also barred residents of areas designated medium- or high-risk for the disease from leaving the city.

Residents who do not live in such areas were told to refrain from unnecessary trips out of Dalian.

Provincial and city governments frequently implement a combination of measures including mass testing, closing schools and restricting travel for those in areas with new patient clusters. - REUTERS

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