China locks down city of 4 million to bring Covid epidemic under control

The Chinese government on Tuesday ordered the closure of the northwestern city of Lanzhou, as authorities carried out large-scale testing to quash a small outbreak of Covid-19.

Lanzhou, a city of about four million people, reported six new cases of the coronavirus on Tuesday and a total of 39 in the past week. China, where the coronavirus first emerged in late 2019, has struggled with a recent surge in new cases mainly in the country’s northwest that have spread through domestic travel.

The country has a strict “zero Covid” policy, carrying out large-scale lockdowns and testing to eliminate even small-scale outbreaks.

As of Monday evening, medical staff tested nearly 12 million people in Gansu Province, including more than 2.8 million in Lanzhou, its capital. Testing in Lanzhou continued on Tuesday.

Residents were urged to stay at home and avoid all unnecessary outings.

“The province will continue to use big data and house-to-house surveys to strengthen the management and control of key populations and key areas,” said Zhang Hao, spokesperson for the provincial health commission, during the report. a press conference. “Local communities will be used to strictly control the flow of people. “

Nationwide, China on Tuesday announced 29 new domestic cases of the coronavirus. Most of them were concentrated in the northwest, including 15 in the Alxa League, a region of Inner Mongolia. Beijing, the capital, reported three new cases on Tuesday.

This week, China also expanded its extensive immunization program by extending eligibility to children as young as 3.

The effort to immunize young children began Monday, according to documents released by several provincial governments, including Hunan, Hubei and Hainan. The goal is to raise the vaccination rate above the current 76 percent.

The government approved the emergency use of vaccines produced by Sinovac and Sinopharm for children aged 3 to 17 in June, but mass immunization for children was limited to those aged 11 to 17.

An outbreak in Fujian last month sparked a public debate over protecting young children, as many of those infected were kindergarten and elementary school students.

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