As China gradually emerges from the Covid-19 surge that shut down Shanghai for two months, the outbreak in eastern Anhui province poses a new challenge to efforts to balance economic growth with government “zero Covid” policies.
More than 200 cases were reported in Suzhou city, Anhui province on Monday. More than 1,000 cases have been reported in the province since the outbreak was discovered on June 26, according to the agency. municipal government of Suzhou.
China has only recently begun to recover from outbreaks in dozens of cities that began in March. In addition to the financial capital of Shanghai, which emerged from a two-month citywide lockdown in June, the outbreak also affected the technology hub of Shenzhen and Beijing, the capital of China. Leader of the Communist Party of Shanghai announced last month that the city has protected itself from Covid, and said that this proves the correctness of the zero Covid strategy.
As the Covid measures hurt the economy, the authorities have recently adopted policies to help businesses and increase consumption. The Ministry of Information has ceased to indicate in travel codes that someone was traveling from a city reporting coronavirus cases, and the National Health Commission cut the quarantine period for incoming international travelers in half to seven days.
But the Anhui government has issued strict orders to eradicate cases in the province. Communist Party Secretary promised to cancel the broadcast out of quarantine centers for a week and informed local authorities that there could be no deaths or cases of coronavirus among medical workers.
Local governments quickly doubled the restrictions.
The majority of Anhui cases were detected in Xi County, Suzhou, where on Wednesday authorities ordered its 760,000 inhabitants refrain from going outside unless absolutely necessary. The order came three days after the first cases were identified, and nearly everyone in the county has had seven tests in the past 10 days, according to authorities. Suzhou municipal authorities said the county has sent 22,000 people thought to be close contacts of people who tested positive to state detention centers, and residents of dozens of districts where cases have been found have been banned from leaving their homes.
However, cases appear to be spreading outside of Anhui province. Suzhou borders the provinces of Jiangsu, Henan and Shandong. More than 300 cases reported in at least a dozen cities in neighboring provinces have been linked to the outbreak in Suzhou, according to the provincial health authorities.
Elsewhere in the country, the government of Xi’an, a city of 13 million people, said on Tuesday it would impose tough restrictions after report 18 cases from Saturday. Public institutions, entertainment venues and schools will be closed for a week, and dining in restaurants will be prohibited.