Covid-19: China’s Fujian outbreak spreads
The Chinese education ministry on Wednesday said students and teachers should “stay put” during the upcoming holidays in China in the backdrop of the country’s first “school-centric” Covid-19 outbreak in Fujian province.
The number of Covid-19 cases in the eastern coastal Fujian province rose to 152 on Wednesday, prompting authorities to shut down more schools, impose stricter travel restrictions and expand mass nucleic acid testing.
Tourist places have been closed and large-scale gathering activities such as weddings have been cancelled in the province.
From Wednesday, kindergartens in some regions of Fujian’s capital city Fuzhou suspended classes. “The investment zone with investors from the nearby Taiwan island conducted nucleic acid tests for over 10,000 teachers and students from 69 kindergartens,” the Global Times reported.
Though all the cases until now have only been reported from Fujian - the cities of Putian, Quanzhou and Xiamen - the fresh outbreak has also prompted cities in other parts of the country to issue travel warnings ahead of major holidays comprising the mid-Autumn festival next week and the week-long National Day break in October.
Cities like Guangzhou, Jilin and Maoming in other provinces and provinces like Heilongjiang and Shanxi have advised citizens against non-essential travel.
Chinese state media has called the Fujian outbreak the first “school-centred” Covid-19 cluster in China - dozens of school-going children have tested positive, the youngest a four-year-old.
In Putian, for example, the first city where cases were discovered, the current outbreak has spread to two kindergartens, three primary schools and one middle school.
Taking a cue, Wang Dengfeng, an education ministry official, said on Wednesday that students and teachers were being encouraged to stay put during the upcoming holidays when millions of Chinese are expected to travel. “We encourage everyone to stay in the area for the holidays if there is no essential need to leave,” Wang Dengfeng said.
The warning from Wang Dengfeng came despite education ministry data showing on Wednesday that China has fully vaccinated 91% of students aged 12-17 against the coronavirus.
The two-dose vaccination rate of teachers and students over 18 years old has exceeded 95%, the ministry said.
China has largely been able to contain the Covid-19 pandemic - first detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019 - but new outbreaks continue to occur in various parts of the country.
A Delta variant outbreak in July and August spread to several provinces, raising concern about new and more contagious variants.
As of Tuesday, China’s national health commission (NHC) says it has administered more than 2.15 billion doses of vaccines, fully vaccinating more than 900 million people.
The efficacy of the domestically developed serums, however, has been called into question particularly in dealing with the Delta variant.
As of September 14, mainland China had recorded 95,413 confirmed cases and the number of deaths remained at 4636.
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