BEIJING | China decided on Tuesday to confine as a precaution five million inhabitants of a city bordering Beijing after a case of coronavirus, the authorities trying to quickly contain small outbreaks that appeared near the capital.
• Read also: All developments in the COVID-19 pandemic
• Read also: The anniversary of the first death ignored in Wuhan
• Read also: Half a million rural residents confined to Beijing
The country has largely contained COVID-19 on its soil, with zero deaths since May. Regularly confronted with small “clusters”, it treats them quickly with confinements, massive screenings and travel restrictions.
But Hebei province, which surrounds the capital Beijing, has reported in recent weeks 560 people positive for the new coronavirus (including 234 asymptomatic), causing a wave of restrictions and preventive lockdowns.
The inhabitants of Langfang, a manufacturing city of 4.9 million inhabitants bordering Beijing, can no longer leave the borders of their municipality since Tuesday, unless absolutely necessary. The measure is in place for seven days.
“All family reunions must be canceled (…), weddings postponed and funeral ceremonies simplified until the epidemic situation calms down,” the town hall said in a statement.
All 4.9 million inhabitants will be screened, said health authorities in Langfang, after the discovery of a positive case in one of the townships under the jurisdiction of the city.
The large city of Shijiazhuang (11 million inhabitants), capital of Hebei province, is considered the epicenter of the recent outbreak of COVID-19.
Last week, local authorities put in place a containment, launched a massive screening of the entire population, closed schools and means of communication (highways, airport, trains, long-distance coaches).
The seven million inhabitants of Xingtai City, also in Hebei Province, have also been banned from leaving their commune’s borders since Friday.
Since October, provinces in northern China have regularly reported cases of COVID-19. Despite the very limited number of contaminations compared to several other countries, the authorities reacted quickly with strict restrictions.
China is trying to avoid any runaway infections as the Lunar New Year holidays approach (February 11-17), which sees hundreds of millions of Chinese people storm transport each year for days or even weeks.