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Wuhan locks down part of city center as Covid cases emerge

Wuhan locked down one of its central districts after Covid cases were found, as China persists with a zero-tolerance approach to the virus almost three years since the pathogen first emerged in the city.

The Covid Zero policy -- which has its origin in the early days of the pandemic in Wuhan -- uses lockdowns, mass testing and restrictions on travel to contain the virus’s spread. (Photo:Bloomberg)

Wuhan locked down one of its central districts after Covid cases were found, as China persists with a zero-tolerance approach to the virus almost three years since the pathogen first emerged in the city.

The roughly 900,000 residents of Hanyang district were told to stay in their homes from Wednesday, a spokeswoman from the area’s CDC told Bloomberg News by phone. Another official at Hanyang’s health bureau said the lockdown would last until Sunday, and that all non-essential businesses had been told to shut. Supermarkets and pharmacies will remain operational.

Photos posted on Chinese social media appeared to show barriers erected in Hanyang, ostensibly to keep people from leaving as the movement restrictions are imposed. The district is known for its historical tourist attractions.

Wuhan recorded 18 Covid cases in the community for Tuesday. While a minuscule tally in other parts of the world, which have shifted to living with the virus, it’s a significant number in China, where authorities continue to try and wipe out outbreaks.

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The Covid Zero policy — which has its origin in the early days of the pandemic in Wuhan — uses lockdowns, mass testing and restrictions on travel to contain the virus’s spread. But the approach, which President Xi Jinping has defended for saving lives, is leading to widespread social and economic disruption.

After eliminating the virus by April 2020, Wuhan saw a long period of no cases where life in the city that saw the world’s first Covid lockdown returned to normality. That spell ended in July this year, when officials locked down the Jiangxia district, an area that’s home to almost 1 million people on Wuhan’s outskirts.

Nationally, cases are trending higher again after plateauing during last week’s party congress. There were 1,230 new local infections reported for Tuesday, up from 1,068 the day before and the highest in two weeks.

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Lockdowns have been in deployed in Shanxi province’s Datong city, a key coal producing base. The southern metropolis of Guangzhou imposed Covid curbs in a district at its center on Monday.

–With assistance from Jessica Sui and Claire Che.

First published on: 27-10-2022 at 13:14 IST
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