Some 108 million people in China’s northeast region are being thrown back under lockdown as a new cluster of #coronavirus infections emerges.
— Bloomberg QuickTake (@QuickTake) May 18, 2020
Some 108 million people in China’s northeast region are being plunged back under lockdown conditions as a new and growing cluster of infections causes a backslide in the nation’s return to normal.
In an abrupt reversal of the re-opening taking place across the nation, cities in Jilin province have cut off trains and buses, shut schools and quarantined tens of thousands of people. The strict measures have dismayed many residents who had thought the worst of the nation’s epidemic was over.
People “are feeling more cautious again,” said Fan Pai, who works at a trading company in Shenyang, a city in nearby Liaoning province that’s also facing renewed restrictions. “Children playing outside are wearing masks again” and health care workers are walking around in protective gear, she said. “It’s frustrating because you don’t know when it will end.”
While the cluster of 34 infections isn’t growing as quickly the outbreak in Wuhan which started the global pandemic last December, China’s swift and powerful reaction reflects its fear of a second wave after it curbed the virus’s spread at great economic and social cost. It’s also a sign of how fragile the re-opening process will be in China and elsewhere as even the slightest hint of a resurgence of infections could prompt a return to strict lockdown.
The government of Shulan, a city in Jilin, said on WeChat Monday it would put in place its strictest measures yet to contain the virus. Residential compounds with confirmed or suspected cases will be closed off, with only one person from each family allowed to leave to purchase essentials for two hours every two days.
Shen Jia, a Shenyang-based salesman at a life sciences company, canceled a three-day business trip to Jilin city last week because he would have been quarantined for as long as 21 days on his return. A state-owned restaurant he visited last week separated his party of three because only two people are allowed at each table, a restriction that had been eased weeks ago before being re-instated.
“You can feel that control is stricter,” he said. People “have been more careful and reduced outdoor activities.”
Officials in Jilin, the former capital and second-largest city in Jilin Province, put Fengman District on “high alert” yesterday.
The district recorded three new locally transmitted cases and one further death.
It comes one week after Shulan, which is administered by Jilin, went on lockdown and quarantined 8,000 people in a failed bid to contain the second outbreak.
On Saturday, the local government sacked six officials, including Shulan Communist Party Chief Li Pengfei, over their handling of the second wave, which has so far resulted in 18 confirmed cases since May 7.