Shijiazhuang, China's new hotspot of COVID-19 surge

Cheryl Sanders
January 13, 2021

A Chinese province of more than 37 million declared an "emergency state" on Wednesday to snuff out a handful of Covid-19 cases, as the country moved decisively to contain infections.

The number of new cases in mainland China reported on Tuesday nearly halved from a day earlier and remain a small fraction of what it saw at the height of the outbreak in early 2020.

The National Health Commission (NHC) announced on Wednesday that another 90 confirmed cases had been reported in Hebei province, whose capital Shijiazhuang has accounted for the vast majority of recent cases.

Other provinces in China are reporting new confirmed or asymptomatic cases, as well.

Langfang, southeast of Beijing, said its 4.9 million residents would be put under home quarantine for seven days and tested for the virus.

The Chinese mainland reported 103 confirmed cases on Monday, mostly from Hebei, the first time for a daily triple-digit rise in the number of confirmed cases in more than five months.

This is the first time the country's daily infection number has surpassed 100 since last July.

Over 70 percent of confirmed cases distributed are in rural areas, which have the tradition of holding weddings ahead of the Lunar New Year. In last week, the city reported 369 confirmed COVID-19 cases and asymptomatic cases, all of whom are treated at designated hospitals.

Much remains unknown about the origins of the coronavirus and China has been sensitive about accusations of a cover-up that delayed its initial response and allowed the virus to spread. A health expert affiliated with the WHO said previously that expectations should be "very low" that the team would reach a conclusion from its trip to China.

Hebei province, that surrounds Beijing, accounted for 90 percent of the cases and has put three cities; Shijiazhuang, Xingtai and Langfang, into lockdown.

Shijiazhuang will begin a second round of nucleic acid testing Wednesday, which is scheduled to finish in two days.

Passengers scan a heath QR code at the exit of Harbin Railway Station, Harbin City, northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, January 12, 2021.

Most of the cases in Heilongjiang have been found in Wangkui county, under Suihua's jurisdiction. Xi Jinping orders China's military to be ready for war "at any second'In his speech, Xi also again emphasised Beijing's new "dual circulation" economic strategy first announced in May amid global challenges brought by the pandemic and China's slowing growth."Only by being self-reliant and developing the domestic market and smoothing out internal circulation can we achieve vibrant growth and development, regardless of the hostility in the outside world", Xi said.That strategy - echoing the theme of "self-reliance" in the latest five-year plan to 2025 - is expected to see Beijing put less reliance on its export-oriented development strategy, or external circulation, but not abandon it altogether.Steve Tsang, director of the SOAS China Institute at the University of London, said Xi's remarks showed he meant to make the most of a world that was in flux and undergoing changes that could fundamentally reshape the global order."Xi is now cautiously very optimistic".

A steady trickle of new coronavirus cases has surfaced in China's northern provinces since October, prompting strict restrictions despite the number of infections being small compared to outbreaks in many other countries.

The city of Changchun - the capital of neighbouring Jilin province - reported seven new asymptomatic patients on January 11, four of whom had travelled from Wangkui recently.

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