A medical worker wearing a protective suit collects a throat swab from a local to conduct a rapid Covid-19 antigen test at a temporary testing center on January 6, 2021 in Shijiazhuang, Hebei Province, China.

Optical China Group | Getty Images

BEIJING – Chinese authorities have begun locking down parts of a province bordering Beijing after a surge in coronavirus cases.

The restrictions implemented in Hebei this week are among the most stringent since the spread of Covid-19 inside the country stopped in March, and comes with new waves of the coronavirus hitting the United States and Europe. China’s initial harsh response to The epidemic contributed to a shrinkage of 6.8% In the economy in the first quarter.

Shijiazhuang, the capital of Hebei Province, is about a three-and-a-half-hour drive southwest of Beijing, it said 50 new confirmed cases of coronavirus And 67 cases were asymptomatic for Wednesday. This brings the total number of confirmed cases in the province to 90 and 144 asymptomatic cases.

Official media reported that the city prevented passengers from going to its train station, stopped long-distance buses, closed schools, and imposed more control over the entry of residential complexes, while the authorities closed the main highways in the province.

Hebei Province began revealing a few cases of coronavirus over the weekend, as state media attributed some of them to wedding attendees.

The new cases come a few weeks after Beijing announced a small number of cases in close succession, which resulted in mass tests being conducted in certain areas of the capital.

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The Chinese authorities promoted their ability to control the virus before the developed world, and have blamed foreign sources in most cases since last spring. The country is the only major economy expected to grow in 2020.

But late last year, officials began to express more concern about the ongoing pandemic.

The increase in coronavirus cases in the latest outbreak in Hebei indicates the virus has spread for a while, according to Feng Zijian, vice president of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention. In an interview with state media earlier in the week.

Researchers from the CDC said the genome sequences showed The Hebei strains were different from those in other parts of China It was not related to the breed in the UK, but it does share some similarities with the versions found in Russia.

Shijiazhuang is a city of about 11 million people about 10 hours’ drive north from Wuhan, in Hubei Province, where Covid-19 first emerged in late 2019. The disease became a global pandemic within months, and has since infected more than 87 million. People worldwide killed more than 1.8 million.

Hebei Provincial Health Commission Send 1,000 medical personnel On Wednesday to Shijiazhuang to help the city with health care needs and mass tests. There are plans to send an additional 2,000 medical workers on Thursday.

Chinese authorities are encouraging people to stay in the cities where they work during the upcoming Lunar New Year holidays next month. Hundreds of millions of people usually return to their hometowns or travel during the extended holiday, which this year falls in mid-February.

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