Chinese cities tighten anti-epidemic measures amid holidays as new subvariant triggers regional outbreaks

A resident receives nucleic acid tests at a residential community in Hohhot on Thursday.  Photo: VCG

A resident receives nucleic acid tests at a residential community in Hohhot on Thursday. Photo: VCG

Chinese cities have tightened anti-epidemic measures, including strengthening temperature and health checks at transport stations, as well as making appointments before entering tourist attractions to avoid a large flow of staff during the National Day holidays, to ensure a safe holiday, in the wake of the flare. ups caused by Omicron’s new BF.7 sub-variant.

Several cities, including Shanghai, Chongqing in southwest China, Nanjing in eastern China, and Urumqi in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region have released requirements for residents who are going to return to cities or work after of the seven-day vacation.

On September 28, Hohhot in north China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region detected a local case. Hohhot authorities said in a press conference on October 1 that this round of outbreaks was caused by Omicron’s BF.7 subvariant after sequencing of the gene. It is the first time the new Omicron subvariant has triggered an outbreak in mainland China, according to media reports.

As of Thursday, the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region has reported 381 local confirmed cases, including 346 in Hohhot, and 1,554 asymptomatic carriers, including 1,525 in Hohhot, local authorities said on Friday.

Several areas in Inner Mongolia, including the major urban area of ​​Ulanhot, will implement static management from Friday to Sunday and three rounds of mass nucleic acid testing to curb the spread of the virus.

As a sub-variant of Omicron BA.5, BF.7 has improved immunity evasion compared to BA.5, meaning that it is still possible for people to become infected with BF.7 even if they have been infected before or have taken COVID-19. vaccines, Zhuang Shilihe, a Guangzhou-based medical expert, told the Global Times on Friday.

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Vaccines and oral antiviral pills used to treat COVID-19 remain effective against BF.7, and COVID-19 vaccines are effective in preventing severe cases and death from COVID-19, Zhuang noted. Residents are encouraged to maintain good hygiene habits, including wearing a face mask and washing hands frequently.

Zhuang also noted that people should exercise caution ahead of the upcoming winter season, which may face more pressure to curb COVID-19 and the flu.

The Chinese mainland reported 216 local confirmed COVID-19 cases and 1,267 asymptomatic carriers on Thursday, including 661 in Inner Mongolia, 96 in the Xinjiang region and 56 in central China’s Hubei Province, the National Commission said Friday. of health.

From October 1 to 5, Shanghai alone reported 26 positive cases of COVID-19, who either returned from other regions or were contacts of confirmed patients. The dominant variants were Omicron BA.5 and BA.2.76, which have faster transmission speed and more latent feature, Wu Qianyu, a senior official with the Shanghai Health Commission, said at a press conference on Thursday.

All staff from other regions must take nucleic acid tests after arriving in Shanghai within 24 hours and a seven-day self-health check is required, according to Shanghai authorities.

Shanghai reported three new confirmed cases in communities on Friday, health authorities said.

Northwest China’s Shaanxi Province reported 50 new cases on Thursday, including 40 from other regions.

A bus was suspended for violating regulations on Oct. 5 and dropped off 40 passengers, all with travel histories in COVID-19 risk regions, at a highway service zone in Xianyang, Shaanxi. Local authorities said 19 of them were confirmed to be infected with COVID-19.

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Tourist attractions have been making efforts to strengthen COVID-19 prevention measures to ensure the safety of tourists, as well as to build a good image by doing their best.

The well-known tourist attraction of Fenghuang Old Town in central China’s Hunan province apologized on Friday, stating that they will provide free admission for one year to all A-level tourist attractions in the county in 2023 for tourists stranded due to to the epidemic.

Fenghuang County announced on Thursday that it will carry out temporary static management after reporting four confirmed cases and one positive sample in a mixed tube during a massive nucleic acid test.

Also in Hunan’s Zhangjiajie, another tourist attraction, some parties have carried out temporary static management since Thursday.

Haikou, south China’s Hainan province, also announced Thursday that it is conducting temporary static management from 7 am Thursday to 10 pm Friday. The city has reported seven cases since Oct. 5, according to officials.

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