China Battles Worst COVID-19 Outbreak Since Wuhan; Lockdowns Spread Across the Country While Citizens Blame Hong Kong 

Image by 0 ABC News (Australia)/ YouTube Screenshot

According to the National Health Commission, China reported hundreds of new local COVID-19 cases on Sunday, with the Omicron variant driving the country’s largest outbreak since Wuhan in early 2020. 

Officials said 2,125 cases were recorded in 58 cities across 19 of China’s 31 provinces, making it the fourth day in a row that the country has reported more than 1,000 daily local cases. Since the outbreak began in early March, more than 10,000 cases have been documented, according to the NHC.

China faces new COVID-19 outbreak

According to NHC records, the commission confirmed 3,122 local cases on Saturday, the largest daily number of infections since the Wuhan outbreak and the first time new cases have surpassed 3,000 in a single day.

China has maintained a strong zero-COVID-19 policy throughout the pandemic, aiming to eradicate all outbreaks and chains of transmission using a mix of border restrictions, mass testing, quarantine protocols, and lockdowns.

The provincial administration said northeastern Jilin province has reported over half of the total cases in the new outbreak, with 4,605 cases since March 1, when the first clusters of cases in Jilin’s border city Yanbian were found.

According to CNN, the NHC said the majority of cases (1,026) were recorded in Jilin province on Sunday. The city of Jilin in Jilin province has closed 504 neighborhoods and begun eight rounds of mass testing, according to the local authorities.

Hong Kong blamed for the lack of preparation

Carrie Lam, the leader of Hong Kong, voiced her “care and concern” for the people of Shenzhen, which is facing a lockdown due to a rising COVID-19 outbreak, which many locals blame on her city.

Authorities in the southern tech powerhouse have ordered all 12.6 million citizens to be tested for the virus this week, citing an increase in cases. Public transportation has been halted, dine-in restaurants, and businesses have been compelled to have staff work from home, according to Globe and Mail.

Other sections of China, such as Shanghai and the northeastern province of Jilin, have also announced additional precautions in response to a recent surge in cases. The Chinese mainland is presently seeing its biggest outbreak since early 2020, with many pointing to Hong Kong as the most likely source of infection – where cases have been spiraling out of control for weeks.

The outbreak in Hong Kong is now the world’s bloodiest and most serious. According to researchers at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, up to five million individuals, or 66% of the population, might be infected by the time the current wave passes, with 9,000 fatalities possible.

The authorities have come under fire for neglecting to prepare for an outbreak that many experts predicted would happen at some time, despite the city’s tight quarantine rules in place since 2020. Not only were vaccination rates insufficient, but Hong Kong lacked the resources to effectively implement the Chinese approach, which depends on lockdowns and mass testing to discover and isolate individuals as soon as illnesses spread.

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