The timing couldn’t be more inopportune. As China prepares for the lunar New Year holiday and the mission of international scientists from the World Health Organization (WHO) landed in Wuhan to study the origin of the virus, Beijing has had to deal with the worst regrowth of the last five months. And not only that, the Asian country has also announced the first death from covid since May 17.
The most disturbing scenario is located in Hebei province, very close to the capital of the country, with half a thousand confirmed cases.
Last week, after decreeing that they were entering “war mode”, the sealing of their capital, Shijiazhuang, of 11 million inhabitants, was announced, which has been followed by other cities such as Xingtai, Langfang, Bazhou or Sanhe, which they separate a few kilometers from Beijing.
First death in eight months
As a result of the new outbreak, the Asian country has reported coronavirus-months_0_q1VL84wJz.html “target =” _ blank “> its first death from coronavirus in eight months. It is a woman who had an underlying condition, according to the Xinhua news agency, citing to the Hebei Health Commission.
China has not had a death linked to Covid-19 since Mayas the country successfully eliminated the clusters after controlling the first wave of infections a year ago.
The most disturbing focus is located in Hebei province, neighboring Beijing, with five cities closed.
In these localities, the authorities have thrown away the manual that has given them such good results so far: punishment of three local officials for leaving their functions; home confinement and prohibition of non-essential activities; tests the entire population; stoppage of public transport; cancellation of funerals and weddings – it is believed that the outbreak could have arisen in one – and the cutting of some communication routes with the outside, mainly with the capital, where the measures have been intensified.
Another focus is located in the Heilongjiang province, where on Wednesday 16 local infections were confirmed before entering a state of emergency. The bolt of Suihua city, of five million inhabitants. Another nearby city, Teili (300,000), will not allow no person or vehicle come out in the next three days.
Despite the fact that the figures that China manages pale next to others such as those of the United States (more than 200,000 cases daily), its population and the authorities walk with the guard up.
In anticipation of the number of cases growing, Prime Minister Li Keqiang warned that any attempt to hide information or underestimate the spread of the virus He will be punished.
WHO members arrive in Wuhan. Photo: AFP
“The process of prevention and control of an infectious disease requires the truth of the facts, transparent and open information and never minimized data,” he said at a meeting of the State Council.
His words came just before Beijing approved visas for members of the WHO international scientific mission that arrived in Wuhan on Thursday to investigate the origin of the virus. (NdeR: Two of the experts, however, were unable to enter after testing positive for certain antibodies.)
They are expected to have access to the market initially identified as the original focus, to the medical records of patients in Wuhan before and after the outbreak, and to interview the first confirmed cases.
Meanwhile, the country continues to overturn its campaign of mass vaccination, which plans to inoculate 50 million people in the next few weeks before mass displacements begin for the lunar New Year.
On Wednesday, researchers in Brazil announced that CoronaVac, the vaccine from Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinovac, has an effectiveness of 50.4%, enough to be approved but well below other western ones such as Pfizer or Moderna.
By Ismael Arana, Hong Kong correspondent for La Vanguardia