The largest city in northern China’s Hebei province has barred people from leaving in an effort to curb the spread of coronavirus as the country reported its biggest rise in daily infections in more than five months.
Hebei accounted for 51 of the 52 local cases reported by the National Health Commission on Thursday.
This compared with 20 cases reported in the province, which surrounds Beijing, a day earlier.
Authorities in the city of Shijiazhuang, home to 11 million people, have launched mass testing drives and banned gatherings to reduce the spread of the virus.
— Stephen McDonell (@StephenMcDonell) January 7, 2021
In addition to barring citizens from leaving the city, people and vehicles from areas considered high risk were not allowed to leave their district, authorities said.
Hebei entered a “wartime mode” on Tuesday, meaning investigation teams would be set up at provincial, city and district levels to trace the close contacts of those who have tested positive.
Chinese state television earlier reported that Shijiazhuang had banned passengers from entering its main railway station.
The city had previously required travellers to present a negative COVID-19 test result taken within 72 hours before boarding a train or a plane in the province.
China's Hebei province has reported 120 new coronavirus cases. All 11 million residents in Shijiazhuang are being tested.
— BNO Newsroom (@BNODesk) January 7, 2021
Total new COVID-19 cases for all of mainland China stood at 63, compared with 32 reported a day earlier, marking the biggest rise in daily cases since 127 were reported on July 30.
The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in mainland China since the outbreak started in the city of Wuhan in late 2019 now stands at 87,278, while the death toll remained unchanged at 4634.
China has been seeking to shape the narrative about when and where the pandemic began, with senior diplomat Wang Yi saying “more and more studies” showed that it emerged in multiple regions.
We've entered a new phase of the #COVID19 pandemic, where solidarity is needed like never before. We’re in a race to prevent infections, bring cases down, protect health systems & save lives while rolling out highly effective & safe vaccines to high-risk populations. #ACTogether pic.twitter.com/kq5VRGyead
— Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (@DrTedros) January 6, 2021
World Health Organisation emergencies chief Mike Ryan has previously called this “highly speculative”.
China played down those concerns, saying arrangements were being worked out.
“There’s no need to overinterpret this,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on Wednesday.
The COVID-19 vaccine inoculation among specific groups of people with higher infection risks has started across China recently. Vaccine developing companies are busy producing #COVID_19 vaccines to ensure the inoculation being conducted orderly. pic.twitter.com/SFmyRSdhDt
— China Daily (@ChinaDaily) January 7, 2021