Shijiazhuang Shutdown in Wake of New Infections



· 1月7日

The eruption of over 200 new infections in the provincial capital poses the gravest risk in China since the Covid-19 outbreak in Wuhan about a year ago. The municipal government has taken swift measures to stop the coronavirus spread, including mandatory tests for all residents in the metropolis of over 10 million people within three days.

Credit: VCG

BEIJING, January 7 (TMTPOST) – All neighborhoods in Shijiazhuang, the capital of Hebei province, are closed to visitors and its railway stations are shutdown on Thursdays following the eruption of dozens of new cases since January 2.

Streets are nearly deserted as all residents are required to work from home for at least three days beginning on Wednesday. No private cars are allowed on the road except ambulances, police cars, fire engines and other vehicles for essential purposes.

Any vehicle that enters or exits the industrial city must have permits issued by the municipal office overseeing the all-out work to fight Covid-19. For any vehicle with a permit, only two designated persons are allowed to use it.

All visitors to the metropolis, about 200 kilometers from Beijing and often regarded as a gateway to China's capital, must have the Covid-19-negative proof and be screened for body temperatures prior to setting foot in the city.

For at least two days throughout Friday, no passengers are allowed to leave the city, either by train, road or air. On Thursday all trains passed by the city, without taking any new passengers. Many flights bound for the city were cancelled.

Origin of the Outbreak

The new wave of infections started in a village of Gaocheng District, Shijiazhuang, on January 2, right after a festive New Year’s Day. At 4 am, the unnamed “patient 1”, 61, had a fever. At around 5 am, her family got a taxi to send her to the Second Hospital Affiliated with Hebei Medical University. After two Covid-19 tests in a day, she was confirmed positive.    

On January 3, all villagers in her village, Xiaoguozhuang village and nearby village – Liujiazuo village were required to get tested. More villagers tested positive. In China, municipal governments, such as Shijiazhuang Municipal Government, have jurisdiction over the rural area surrounding the city.

A few villagers who visited hospitals also tested positive. A total of 234 new infections have been reported in the province since January 2, according to Hebei Provincial Healthcare Committee that releases the statistics on new cases on a daily basis.

Meanwhile, another cluster of cases emerged about 120 kilometers away. In a hospital in Xingtai city, a patient tested positive on the night of January 2. Later, the patient’s family members and coworkers also tested positive in the screening required by the government.  

The two groups of patients crossed roads at one location – Hebei Children’s Hospital on December 25. A patient from Shijiazhuang accompanied her grandson there while another patient from Xingtai was also present in the same hospital, known as the best children’s hospital in the province.

So far most infections are concentrated in the two villages of Shijiazhuang, both of which are located near Zhengding International Airport. Epidemiologists suspected new cases may be related to goods imported from abroad.  

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