Mainland authorities are enforcing a ‘zero tolerance’ strategy (Picture: Reuters)
Millions of people in China face new restrictions as Covid infection numbers reach levels last seen in 2020.
Mainland China is struggling to control its biggest outbreak in two years with nearly 1,938 cases reported on Sunday – more than triple the previous day’s total.
The southern business centre of Shenzhen has been shut, while access to Shanghai has been restricted and bus services suspended.
Everyone in Shenzhen – a finance and technology centre next to Hong Kong with 17.5 million people – will undergo three rounds of testing after 60 new cases were reported.
All businesses aside from those that supply food, fuel and other necessities have been ordered to close or work from home.
Case numbers are low compared to other countries – and notably with Hong Kong which reported more than 32,000 infections on Sunday.
But mainland authorities are enforcing a ‘zero tolerance’ strategy and have locked down entire cities to find and isolate every infected person.
Shenzhen is home to some of China’s most prominent companies, including telecom equipment maker Huawei Technologies, electric car brand BYD Auto, Ping An Insurance company and Tencent Holding, operator of the popular WeChat message service.
A man undergoes nucleic acid testing during a citywide testing in Changchun, Jilin province (Picture: Reuters)
Residents line up for screenings in Changchun, northeastern China (Picture: AP)
About three-quarters of cases – 1,412 – on the mainland were in the Jilin province in the northeast.
The industrial metropolis of Changchun was placed in lockdown on Friday and families told to stay at home after a spate of infections.
China – where the first cases were detected in late 2019 – has reported a total of 4,636 deaths on the mainland out of 115,466 confirmed cases since the pandemic started.
In Shanghai, China’s most populous city with 24 million people, the number of cases has jumped to 432.
The city government has called on the public not to leave unless necessary. It said intercity bus services would be suspended starting on Sunday.
‘Those who come or return to Shanghai must have a negative nucleic acid test report within 48 hours before arrival,’ a city health agency statement said.
Construction crews sent from the mainland have built temporary isolation centres in Hong Kong.
A volunteer disinfects the area as it snows during the COVID-19 lockdown in Changchun (Picture: AP)
A temporary hospital under construction at Changchun International Convention and Exhibition Center in Changchun, capital of northeast China’s Jilin Province (Picture: Xinhua/REX/Shutterstock)
Health officials have warned the public not to assume the territory’s surge is under control as the government reports 190 new deaths and 32,430 new cases.
This is down from more than 50,000 after stringent travel and business curbs were imposed.
Dr Albert Au, an expert with the government’s Centre for Health Protection, said: ‘Once we let our guard down, it’s possible that (infections) will bounce back and rise again.’
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