A growing Covid-19 cluster in Dalian – one of China’s northeastern ports – has prompted authorities to shut down schools and venues, and curb outbound travel.
Officials in the city of 7.5 million people in Liaoning province reported 52 locally transmitted infections on Thursday, the highest daily tally reported by a Chinese city since the latest outbreaks began in mid-October.
The city accounted for more than half of the 98 symptomatic coronavirus infections reported nationwide. With asymptomatic cases also included, there were 135 cases reported nationwide, 57 of which were in Dalian.
Dalian officials imposed curbs on public transport and warned residents against leaving Dalian for unnecessary reasons. Kindergartens and primary and high schools have been told to halt offline lessons, while libraries and museums have been shut.
The State Council, China’s cabinet, ordered senior health officials to Dalian for urgent meetings on Thursday.
“Various measures should be quickened and their quality should be improved, in order to get the outbreak under control in a shorter amount of time,” the National Health Commission (NHC) said on Thursday, citing a meeting in Dalian chaired by NHC director Ma Xiaowei.
A second round of city-wide mass testing has begun, the NHC said. Ma told officials that the city needed to improve its nucleic acid testing regimen and strengthen quarantine measures.
Li Lecheng, the acting Liaoning governor, visited frontline workers to offer moral support, urging them to “focus on the lives of the people in need”. He also advised them to wear adequate personal protective equipment.
“Keep warm and keep away from the cold,” Li said.
Dalian, in China’s chilly northeast, is expecting maximum temperatures as low as 9 degrees Celsius next week.
• George Russell