Chinese cities under lockdown after deadly Covid outbreak

Published July 31, 2021
A cluster of infections in Nanjing city linked to airport workers who cleaned a plane from Russia earlier this month had reached the capital Beijing and five provinces by Friday. — AFP/File
A cluster of infections in Nanjing city linked to airport workers who cleaned a plane from Russia earlier this month had reached the capital Beijing and five provinces by Friday. — AFP/File

BEIJING: Hundreds of thousands of people in China were in coronavirus lockdown on Friday as the country battled its worst outbreak in months, while the United States intensified vaccination efforts in the face of a Delta variant-fuelled surge.

The World Health Organisation has warned that the highly transmissible strain, first detected in India, could unleash more Covid-19 outbreaks in a high-risk area from Morocco to Pakistan where vaccination rates are low.

In China, a cluster of infections in Nanjing city linked to airport workers who cleaned a plane from Russia earlier this month had reached the capital Beijing and five provinces by Friday.

Hundreds of thousands of people have been locked down in Jiangsu province, of which Nanjing is the capital, while 41,000 came under stay-at-home orders in Beijing’s Changping district.

Japan extends state of emergency

At least 206 infections across China have been linked to the cluster, and the outbreak is geographically the largest in several months.

The Delta variant is more transmissible than the pathogens that cause SARS, Ebola and smallpox, and as easily spread as chickenpox, according to an internal US Centres for Disease Control presentation reported by The Washington Post and The New York Times.

It has driven recent surges around the world, especially in the Asia-Pacific region.

The Philippines next week will send more than 13 million people in the national capital region back into lockdown because of a Delta-linked increase, the government said on Friday.

The variant has also been linked to around half of new cases in Tokyo.

Japan on Friday extended a virus state of emergency in the capital a week into the Olympics, as the city reported a record number of new cases the day before.

Meanwhile, the United States ramped up efforts to get people vaccinated in the face of a Delta variant-fuelled surge.

With infections and hospitalisations rising, President Joe Biden asked every US federal worker to either declare they are fully vaccinated or wear masks and be tested.

“People are dying — and will die — who don’t have to die,” Biden said on Thursday. “If in fact you are unvaccinated, you present a problem — to yourself, to your family, and to those with whom you work.”

The president also said he would ask the Pentagon to consider making the coronavirus vaccine mandatory for active duty military personnel, and asked state and local governments to offer $100 to holdouts who get the shot.

The CDC has already asked people in virus hotspots — including the vaccinated — to wear masks indoors again.

The moves stop short of a politically sensitive vaccination mandate for federal workers, but mark a dramatic return to restrictions after a rapid vaccination phase.

The surge across America — which has the highest known Covid-19 death toll in the world — has left early vaccine adopters angry at those who have so far opted against the shot.

“It’s almost like they don’t care about the rest of the world,” said Alethea Reed, a 58-year-old healthcare administrator in Washington. “They’re being selfish and self-centred.”

Published in Dawn, July 31st, 2021

Opinion

Casualties of war
17 Sep 2021

Casualties of war

As we ruminate over the consequences of America making a mockery of international law, it is equally important to take an inward
Love of wealth
17 Sep 2021

Love of wealth

Those obsessed with wealth are likely to be involved in corrupt practices.
Pro-rich growth
Updated 17 Sep 2021

Pro-rich growth

An intellectually honest prognosis of our political economy for the working class makes for grim reading.

Editorial

TTP amnesty?
Updated 17 Sep 2021

TTP amnesty?

An amnesty should be for some individuals, not the entire outfit.
17 Sep 2021

Media regulation

THE needless controversy over media regulation may finally be heading for a resolution. In a meeting with ...
17 Sep 2021

Refusing audit

THE continuous resistance put up by several public-sector organisations to submitting their accounts for audit by ...
Aid for Afghans
16 Sep 2021

Aid for Afghans

Humanitarian aid can resume even if the world decides to hold back on formal recognition of the regime for now.
16 Sep 2021

Wheat price

THE government’s decision to raise the wheat release price, or the rate at which provinces issue their grain ...
16 Sep 2021

Keeping the press out

ON Monday, the government yet again displayed its rising contempt for the freedom of press — this time in...