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Chongqing at 'critical point' in virus control

By Tan Yingzi and Deng Rui in Chongqing, Yuan Hui in Hohhot | China Daily | Updated: 2022-11-14 08:59
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Workers transport cabbages in Chongqing's Yubei district, Nov 12, 2022. The district government coordinated with suppliers to guarantee groceries were available for residents. [Photo/Xinhua]

Elsewhere, Hohhot halts operation of company that wrongfully reported tests

Chongqing, a megacity of 32 million people in Southwest China, is facing a "severe and complicated "epidemic situation and is at a critical point with its number of infections rising rapidly in recent days, senior officials said at a news conference on Saturday evening.

The city reported 158 new locally transmitted confirmed cases and 1,662 local asymptomatic carriers on Saturday, according to the Chongqing Health Commission.

The State Council, China's Cabinet, has sent a team to aid with local epidemic control and prevention work. Led by Yu Xuejun, vice-minister of the National Health Commission, the team held a meeting with officials on Saturday.

The municipality on the upper reaches of the Yangtze River is one of the major economic centers in China, after Shanghai, Beijing, and Shenzhen, with a GDP in excess of 2 trillion yuan ($281 billion) in the third quarter, according to the Chongqing Bureau of Statistics.

From Nov 1, when a transmission chain in Shapingba district was discovered, to 6 pm on Nov 12, 4,974 confirmed cases have been reported. Among them, more than two-thirds were in the city's central urban districts, said Yang Lin, a spokesman for the Chongqing government.

He said it was the first time in the past three years that Chongqing has experienced such a large number of infections, which have been rising very fast and spreading to almost every part of the city.

"After studying the development of this outbreak, experts said we are at a critical point of large-scale spread," he said.

"If we fail to control the momentum, the number of infections will surge to 2,000 or 3,000 every day. So our situation is severe and complicated."

Early on Wednesday, deputy director of the local health commission Li Pan, urged residents in 11 central urban districts in Chongqing not to leave their areas, and asked people from outside not to come unless necessary.

To quickly find the source of the latest infections, central areas are carrying out mass testing daily.

Since Friday, several central urban districts issued notices urging residents to stay at home for a week and reduce movement as much as possible in order to contain the spread of the virus.

Chongqing Rail Transit announced on Sunday afternoon that it has suspended the operation of 60 stations along Line 1, 2, 3, 5, 6,9 and the Loop Line.

Yang assured at the conference that the government will do its best to meet needs at this time.

"Our supply of daily necessities is sufficient," he said. "The stocks at major suppliers, such as rice, oil, pork, beef and lamb, are enough to meet needs for over 10 months."

All supermarkets, farmers' markets, logistics companies, drugstores and hospitals are running normally. Communities must pay special attention to the elderly who live alone, pregnant women, babies, the disabled and those with chronic diseases, and help with their problems, he added.

Hohhot, capital of the Inner Mongolia autonomous region, is another COVID-19 hot spot.

Inner Mongolia reported 114 new locally transmitted confirmed COVID-19 cases and 1,320 local asymptomatic carriers on Saturday, according to the local health commission on Sunday. Most of the infections were found in Hohhot, which accounted for 101 and 1,177 cases respectively.

On Sunday, a nucleic acid testing company in Hohhot was found to have reported negative results of some residents as positive, causing severe public panic. The local health commission said on its official website that the incorrect results had been corrected, without explaining whether it was done by mistake or on purpose. It has halted the company's operations and the police have opened an investigation.

China reported 1,675 locally transmitted confirmed COVID-19 cases and 13,086 local asymptomatic carriers, according to the National Health Commission on Sunday.

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