Beijing and Wuhan marathons postponed as China battles Delta outbreak

Authorities warn Covid cases likely to rise after cases were detected in 11 provinces

A Covid outbreak in northern China is expected to get worse, authorities have warned, after cases were detected in 11 provinces and two marathons were postponed.

Authorities recorded more than two dozen new community cases of coronavirus on Sunday, including four in the capital, Beijing, seven in Inner Mongolia, six in Gansu, six in Ningxia, and one each in Hebei, Hunan and Shaanxi.

As the rest of the world opens up and resumes travel, China is maintaining a zero-Covid strategy, particularly in the lead-up to the Winter Olympic Games.

It has responded to other Delta outbreaks with localised lockdowns, mass testing and transport shutdowns. Authorities respond swiftly with strict measures to any outbreaks and local officials can face punishment for any inadequate responses.

On Sunday organisers of the Beijing marathon, scheduled for 31 October, announced its postponement, citing the safety of runners, staff and residents. It followed the postponement of the Wuhan marathon, which was scheduled for Sunday.

About 30,000 people were expected to participate in the 40th Beijing marathon, which has run since 1981. Approximately 26,000 had been expected to compete in Wuhan.

More than 130 cases have been linked to the outbreak of the Delta variant since 17 October, a spokesperson for the national health commission, Mi Feng, said on Sunday.

Most were linked to domestic tour groups, health officials said, but non-tourism cases were rising. Mi urged affected areas to adopt “emergency” measures, warning there was an increasing risk that the outbreak might spread owing to “seasonal factors”.

Tour operators have been banned from organising cross-region travel into affected areas, while Beijing has prohibited the entry of people with a travel history to affected areas.

Bus and taxi services have been suspended in some provinces, while an Inner Mongolia county, Ejina, has asked all residents to remain indoors, Bloomberg reported. State media said thousands of tourists were stranded in Ejina, including elderly members of tour groups.

About 75% of the population has received two doses of China’s domestically produced vaccines, and authorities have begun administering booster shots to people who were vaccinated at least six months ago.


Helen Davidson in Taipei

The GuardianTramp

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