Authorities in Wuhan on Tuesday said they would test its entire population for Covid-19 after the central Chinese city where the coronavirus emerged reported its first local infections in more than a year.
China is battling its largest coronavirus outbreak in months, confining the residents of entire cities to their homes, cutting transport links and rolling out mass testing as the fast-spreading Delta variant challenges its zero-Covid strategy and homegrown vaccines.
Beijing had previously boasted of its success in crushing the virus, allowing the economy to rebound and normal life to return while swathes of the globe have struggled with the pandemic that has killed more than four million people worldwide.
But the latest outbreak is threatening China’s success with more than 400 domestic cases reported since mid-July when a cluster among airport cleaners in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, sparked infections in over 20 cities across more than a dozen provinces.
Wuhan, a city of 11 million, is “swiftly launching comprehensive nucleic acid testing of all residents”, senior city official Li Tao said at a press conference on Tuesday.
Authorities announced on Monday that seven locally transmitted infections had been found among migrant workers in the city, breaking a year-long streak without domestic cases after Wuhan squashed an initial outbreak with an unprecedented lockdown in early 2020.
And the holiday destination of Zhangjiajie in central China’s Hunan province abruptly announced Tuesday that no one would be allowed to exit the city, after closing tourist attractions and encouraging visitors to leave last week.
“All residents, tourists and other personnel are forbidden to leave Zhangjiajie,” according to a brief notice published in the city’s Communist Party mouthpiece Zhangjiajie Daily.
Major cities including the capital Beijing have now tested millions of residents while cordoning off residential compounds and placing close contacts under quarantine.
China reported 61 domestic cases on Tuesday.