Chinese city Putian grapples with a 'serious' Covid-19 situation

Authorities close gyms, bars and cinemas, residents told not to leave town, as city braces for surge in cases

BEIJING: A city in China's south-eastern province of Fujian has closed cinemas and gyms, sealed off some entries and exits to highways and told residents not to leave town as it battles a local Covid-19 outbreak.

The virus situation in the city of Putian is "serious and complex" and it is very likely more new cases will emerge in communities, schools and factories, state-run CCTV said yesterday.

Certain offline lessons in schools have been suspended in Putian and China's national health authority has sent a team of experts to the city, which has a population of 3.2 million.

There were 43 cases in Fujian between Sept 10 and 12, including 35 in Putian, according to data from the National Health Commission (NHC).

Another 32 asymptomatic cases, which China does not count as confirmed cases, have been detected in the province since Sept 10, all in Putian city.

As of Sept 12, mainland China, where Covid-19 first emerged in late 2019, recorded 95,248 cases and 4,636 deaths.

China's last outbreak, which affected mainly Jiangsu province, ended about two weeks ago, with no new local cases. That outbreak lasted a month.

Preliminary testing on samples from some Putian cases showed patients had contracted the highly transmissible Delta variant, said a local health official.

The first few infections, found during routine testing, were elementary students in Xianyou county in Putian. Experts suspected the source of the outbreak might be a student's parent who had travelled to the county from nearby Xiamen city after arriving from Singapore, state media said.

Putian said on Sunday it will suspend operations of indoor entertainment venues including cinemas, Internet cafes and bars, as well as libraries, museums and gyms, and will shorten opening hours and curb patron traffic at restaurants.

Putian residents should not leave the city for non-essential reasons, and those who leave should produce proof of negative test results within 48 hours before departure.

Yesterday, the city suspended offline lessons at all kindergartens and elementary schools in Putian city, and most offline lessons at high schools.

Outside Putian, since Sept 10, seven locally confirmed cases have been found in Quanzhou city and one in Xiamen, both in Fujian province. - REUTERS