People wait in lines for nucleic acid tests in Guangzhou, China on May 26, 2021.
Visual China Group | Getty Images
GUANGZHOU, China – Authorities in southern China’s Guangdong Province are conducting mass tests and have closed areas to control a flare-up of coronavirus cases in Guangzhou.
The city has cited the delta variant of the coronavirus, which was first discovered in India, as the driver behind the surge in cases reported since late May. The Delta Tribe is known to be highly transmissible.
Guangzhou, a city of over 15 million people and the provincial capital, reported 96 of the over 100 cases in Guangdong Province in this latest outbreak.
China, where the coronavirus first emerged last year, has quickly got the epidemic under control and has had very few cases in the past 12 months. However, clusters have emerged in parts of the country, including major cities such as the capital Beijing and the financial center of Shanghai.
The cases in Guangzhou may be even more worrying as it is the delta strain of the coronavirus, which can spread very quickly.
A 75-year-old woman in Liwan, a district of Guangzhou to the west of the city, was the first confirmed case of the Delta variant on May 21. She went to a restaurant and eventually infected her husband. The most recent infections started from there and have since spread to other areas of the city.
Liwan, still the hardest hit district, has strictly closed certain streets. Some areas do not allow people into a certain zone and residents are not allowed to leave their building. Checkpoints have been set up 24 hours a day to monitor movement in and out of these areas.
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Restaurants and entertainment venues have also been closed.
But the virus has also spread to other parts of the city and province. Foshan, a city southwest of Guangzhou, has reported cases. On June 6th, six members of the same family in Guangzhou’s Nansha District tested positive for the coronavirus. On Sunday, a positive case was found at the Chinese technology center in Shenzhen, home to companies like Huawei and Tencent.
In other areas of Guangzhou that are less affected by the recent accumulation of cases, some restaurants and bars have started offering take-away meals.
Mass tests, travel restrictions
After the first case was found, Guangzhou first conducted mass tests in Liwan, which have since been expanded to other areas.
In the central business district known as Zhujiang New Town, residents were asked between Friday and Sunday to take a test at a location near their homes.
One such test site, which was set up on a street full of bars and restaurants, had huge lines on Friday.
Guangzhou performed over 16 million tests at midnight between May 26 and June 5.
In Guangzhou, the authorities have imposed stricter travel restrictions. Some metro stations in the city are closed. The authorities have asked people not to leave the city. However, if residents must leave the province, they should have a negative nucleic acid test within 48 hours of their departure. Previously, travelers had a 72-hour window.
Hundreds of domestic flights from Guangzhou’s Baiyun International Airport have also been canceled.
Driverless cars that carry supplies
Guangzhou has become a hub for driverless automakers to test their vehicles on public roads. And since Liwan is blocked, these companies transport goods to Liwan with their autonomous vehicles.
Guangzhou-based WeRide has used its autonomous bus to transport groceries to Liwan. Pony.ai, another autonomous driving company, has sent its vehicles to Liwan with supplies.
Chinese internet giant Baidu also used its autonomous vehicles to bring food and medical personnel to the affected areas.