Residents in parts of Hebei province are restricted as part of measures to stem the coronavirus surge. Authorities finished carrying out a mass COVID-19 testing of all 13 million residents of Xingtai and Shijiazhuang.

Most of the locally-transmitted cases were found in China’s Hebei province

The daily number of new coronavirus cases has doubled in China, the country’s national health authority reported on Sunday.

Mainland China registered 69 cases on Saturday, compared with 33 reported a day earlier. The National Health Commission reported that 21 of those people had been infected overseas.

The country also reported 27 asymptomatic cases on Saturday, down from 38 a day earlier. China does not classify asymptomatic patients as confirmed cases.

The latest outbreak has prompted tougher movement restrictions. In Beijing, passengers must scan a health code before boarding a taxi or ride-hailing car.

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Most of the locally-transmitted cases were found in China’s northeastern Hebei province where more than 380 people have tested positive.

Almost all the cases are in Hebei’s provincial capital Shijiazhuang, about 260 kilometers (160 miles) southwest of the capital. At least 11 million people are in lockdown and banned from leaving the city for at least a week.

A handful of COVID-19 cases have also been found in Xingtai city, 110 kilometers (68 miles) farther south.

Both cities have finished carrying out mass testing of all 13 million people, a provincial official said in a briefing on Sunday.

Public transport and taxis have also been suspended.

The growing coronavirus outbreak in Hebei has also triggered concerns that the disease might spread to the capital as the province borders Beijing.

Travel between the two has been restricted and workers from Hebei are required to show proof of employment in Beijing to enter the city.

Wuhan was locked down for about 11 weeks after becoming the first global coronavirus hot spot. Until mid-May, 50,000 of the 80,000 official cases in China were in Wuhan. But now life is almost back to normal on the city’s crowded street markets.

During the lockdown, residents were not even allowed to leave their homes. Now, they can even dance together in the park. According to the Reuters news agency, there have been no local transmissions of the virus for months now.

Vegetables, fish, and meat — even wild animals — all used to be for sale at this wet market. But it closed its doors on January 1, 2020 after a mysterious lung disease started spreading and its origin was traced to the market. Scientists have not yet determined the market’s exact role in spreading the virus, if it had one at all.

Before the pandemic, Lai Yun used to find most of the products for his Japanese restaurant at the covered market. “I would send the kids to school, have breakfast and then go to the market,” says the 38-year-old. Since re-opening in June, he has to go elsewhere — and some of the ingredients he needs now cost five times more. “Our aim for next year is simply to survive,” he told DW.

Though the wet market on the ground floor is still closed, the second floor has re-opened. But most of the stores sell glasses and other specialty products for opticians. “Some people might have a weird feeling, but it’s only an empty building now,” one of the saleswomen, who did not give her name, told DW.

Since the market closed down, some people have started selling meat and other fresh goods on the streets. Even if the sellers here are wearing masks and gloves, some say the conditions fall short of certain hygiene standards. In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, the covered market hall was criticized for its poor health and sanitation regulations.

Most Wuhan residents wear masks in public, particularly as the coronavirus has not disappeared and there have been a number of new cases elsewhere in China. “Many people are beginning to hoard masks, disinfectant and other protective equipment,” 29-year-old English teacher Yen told DW.

Author: Uta Steinwehr

mvb/mm (AP, Reuters, dpa)

China has authorized its first coronavirus vaccine for public use. Meanwhile, the country announced that it detected its first imported case of the new COVID-19 variant. Follow DW for the latest.


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