Guangzhou China fights Delta Covid variant with lockdowns, mass testing
People line up for a nucleic acid test on May 26, 2021 in Guangzhou, China.
China Visual Group | Getty Images
GUANGZHOU, China – Authorities in southern China’s Guangdong Province are carrying out mass testing and have locked down areas in an attempt to control an outbreak of coronavirus cases in Guangzhou.
Guangzhou, a city of more than 15 million people and the provincial capital, reported 96 of the more than 100 cases in Guangdong province during this latest outbreak.
China, where the coronavirus first appeared last year, has quickly brought the outbreak under control and has recorded very few cases in the past 12 months. However, clusters have emerged in parts of the country, notably big cities like the capital Beijing and the Shanghai financial center.
The Guangzhou cases are potentially of even more concern because they involve the Delta strain of the coronavirus, which can spread very quickly.
A 75-year-old woman in Liwan, a district of Guangzhou west of the city, was the first confirmed case of the Delta variant on May 21. She visited a restaurant and ended up infecting her husband. The latest infections started from there and have since spread to other areas of the city.
Liwan, still the worst affected neighborhood, has imposed strict closures on some streets. Some areas do not allow people to leave a certain area and residents are not allowed to leave their building. 24-hour checkpoints have been put in place to monitor movement inside and outside these areas.
Restaurants and entertainment venues have also been closed.
But the virus has also spread to other parts of the city and province. Foshan, a city just southwest of Guangzhou, has reported cases. On June 4, six members of the same family in the Nansha district of Guangzhou tested positive for the coronavirus. On Sunday, a positive case was discovered in China’s Shenzhen tech hub, which is home to companies such as Huawei and Tencent.
In other areas of Guangzhou less affected by the latest cluster of cases, some restaurants and bars have started offering take-out menus.
After the discovery of the first case, Guangzhou first carried out mass testing in Liwan which has since spread to other areas.
In the central business district, known as Zhujiang New Town, residents were asked to take a test at a site near their apartments between Friday and Sunday.
One of those test sites, which was set up on a road full of bars and restaurants, had huge queues on Friday.
Guangzhou performed more than 16 million tests between May 26 and June 5 at midnight.
In Guangzhou, authorities have imposed stricter travel restrictions. Some of the city’s metro stations are closed. Authorities urged people not to leave the city. But if residents are to leave the province, they should be tested negative for nucleic acid within 48 hours of leaving. Previously, travelers had a 72 hour window.
Hundreds of domestic flights have also been canceled from Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport.
Guangzhou has become a hub for self-driving car makers who test their vehicles on public roads. And with Liwan locked, these companies are transporting goods with their autonomous vehicles to Liwan.
The Guangzhou-based company WeRide used its autonomous bus to transport food to Liwan. Pony.ai, another self-driving company, sent their vehicles to Liwan with supplies.
Chinese internet giant Baidu has also used its autonomous vehicles to deliver food and medical personnel to affected areas.