City of Nanjing isolated as China fights worst Covid outbreak in months

Flights have reportedly been cancelled and checkpoints set up to verify travellers’ health status amid Delta

Health authorities in China have set up checkpoints and reportedly suspended flights in the eastern city of Nanjing in the country’s worst coronavirus emergency in months.

More than 170 people have been diagnosed with the Delta variant in the past 10 days. The main outbreak is centred on Nanjing, in Jiangsu province, but connected cases have reportedly been identified in Beijing and other provinces including Anhui, Liaoning, Sichuan and Guangdong.

The Global Times reported Nanjing airport was suspending all flights until mid-August, citing an anonymous source. Sichuan province has ordered all new arrivals to undergo 14 days of quarantine in facilities and another seven at home.

Nanjing authorities this week embarked on a second round of mass testing for its 9.3 million population. Entry and exit restrictions on residents have been strengthened, some public transport has been suspended, and taxi and rideshare drivers have been instructed not to leave the city limits.

Other cities in Jiangsu have reinforced anti-virus measures, including 18 checkpoints on highways entering Suzhou, to check the health code status of people travelling from Nanjing. Suzhou authorities have also suspended road passenger transport between the city and Nanjing.

The Nanjing cluster is at least the third outbreak of the highly infectious Delta variant in China, after one near the Myanmar border in Yunnan earlier this month, and another in souther Guangdong in May-June.

Nine cases were first detected on 20 July, all among airport staff in Nanjing. Another 24 local cases on Wednesday brought the total number believed connected to the cluster to 171.

Among the recently confirmed cases are people who joined a crowd of 2,000 at a show in Zhangjiajie, Hunan on 22 July. All attendees, who are now spread across China, have been designated “high risk”. People who have since been diagnosed in Dalian and Chengdu reportedly attended the show, with some having travelled there through Nanjing’s Lukou international airport.

Much of the focus is on the airport, where cleaners – who were cleaning planes that had arrived from overseas and domestic flights – contracted the virus and passed it on to colleagues and family.

The central commission for discipline inspection has publicly criticised the airport management, accusing it of negligence. In a statement on Thursday, the most senior enforcement body of the Chinese Communist party said the airport lacked supervision and had unprofessional management, and that epidemic prevention and control measures had not been properly implemented. It was highly critical of management for not separating staff and operations for international and domestic flights, and called for “deep reflection and rectification”.

China has largely controlled the virus’s spread since it first emerged in Wuhan and prompted a lengthy lockdown. Most of the relatively frequent new outbreaks are met with localised lockdown measures, mass testing and tracing, and a nationwide vaccination program using its domestically produced vaccines.


Helen Davidson in Taipei

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
China shuts down transport routes as it battles worst Covid outbreak in months
Every province has advised residents not to leave as flights are cancelled and Beijing suspends more than a dozen rail lines

Helen Davidson in Taipei

04, Aug, 2021 @9:25 AM

Article image
China moves to contain fresh Covid outbreak in Fujian province
Measures include mass testing, suspension of transport services and closures of bars and cinemas

Vincent Ni and agencies

13, Sep, 2021 @9:36 AM

Article image
China data ‘under-represents’ true impact of Covid outbreak – WHO
Analysis of Chinese data finds no new variants of concern emerging, but world health body says it still does not have ‘complete data’

Guardian staff and agencies

04, Jan, 2023 @11:47 PM

Article image
China: new coronavirus outbreak detected in Xinjiang city of Kashgar
Authorities test 2.84 million people after 137 asymptomatic cases found - the first local infections in China since 14 October

Helen Davidson in Taipei and agencies

26, Oct, 2020 @2:40 AM

Article image
Covid-19 outbreak in Xinjiang spreads to second Chinese city
Twenty-two new cases reported day after ‘wartime’ measures introduced in Urumqi

Helen Davidson and agencies

20, Jul, 2020 @7:32 AM

Article image
China locks down part of Guangzhou amid outbreak of Indian Covid variant
Hundreds of flights have been cancelled, and authorities ordered residents of some streets in the Liwan neighbourhood of Guangzhou city to isolate

Helen Davidson in Taipei

01, Jun, 2021 @5:45 AM

Article image
City in China orders fish swabbed for Covid
Coastal city of Xiamen tells workers on fishing boats, as well as their catch, to undergo testing as part of import controls

Helen Davidson in Taipei

18, Aug, 2022 @10:16 AM

Article image
Coronavirus: China bars 11m residents from leaving city at centre of outbreak
Government unveils new countermeasures as country prepares for lunar new year and death toll doubles to 17

Lily Kuo in Beijing and agencies

23, Jan, 2020 @3:56 AM

Article image
Covid cases rise in Xi’an as China battles biggest community outbreak since 2020
A strict lockdown in the city of 13 million entered its fifth day as the country continues to pursue a ‘zero-Covid’ strategy

Rhoda Kwan in Taipei

27, Dec, 2021 @5:19 AM

Article image
Chinese city of Tianjin to test 14 million people after Covid outbreak
The port near Beijing began mass testing after 20 children and adults tested positive, including at least two with Omicron

Staff and agencies

09, Jan, 2022 @7:48 AM