Mainland As a result of the Omicron variant, the number of new local COVID-19 infections in China jumped to more than 1,500 on Saturday, the highest number reported since the first nationwide outbreak in early 2020. The outbreak prompted Beijing to introduce self-testing kits for the first time.
Chinese cases are currently far fewer than those in many other countries, but the growing number of cases could complicate Beijing’s “dynamic-clearance” ambitions to suppress contagion as quickly and effectively in a number of ways.
The National Health Commission announced on Saturday that it had discovered 476 locally transmitted cases for the day before, including five people who had been initially classified as asymptomatic but later showed signs of disease.
It was reported that there were 1,048 cases of domestically transmitted asymptomatic infections, which China does not classify as confirmed cases, an increase from 703 cases the previous day.
As a result of Beijing’s order to localities to adhere to the “dynamic clearing” policy and prevent a large-scale rebound, several cities have taken measures such as canceling group events, launching rounds of mass testing, and reducing face-to-face classes in schools.
The country is also revising its testing regime in response to the spread of the Omicron variant. Over the past two years, medical workers have been required to swab members of the public for nucleic acid tests, which necessitate the use of labs to process the samples.
For the first time, health officials announced that the general public would be able to purchase such kits in stores and online, and on Saturday, they approved five COVID-19 antigen kits manufactured by local companies for use in self-testing.
China’s Vice Premier Sun Chunlan was quoted by state broadcaster CCTV as saying at a government meeting on Saturday that “in order to deal with how Omicron spreads, we need to promote a model of antigen screening and nucleic acid tests, enable the public to purchase tests by themselves, which is conducive to early detection.”
Beijing, China’s capital, was one of the cities that took steps to tighten security measures. According to the city government, people who are new to the city should undergo nucleic acid testing and should avoid participating in group meals or gatherings during the first seven days.
The Disneyland resort in Shanghai’s financial district announced that it would reduce its guest capacity and that visitors would be required to present negative nucleic acid test results obtained within 24 hours starting on Sunday.
The Canton Fair, China’s oldest and largest trade fair, is being held in the southern province of Guangzhou and has been temporarily closed as a result of a recent visit by a suspected confirmed case, according to local officials.
The northeastern province of Jilin announced on Saturday that the mayor of Jilin city as well as a district head in the provincial capital, Changchun, had been fired. During the most recent outbreak, the province has been one of the hardest-hit areas in the country.
Changchun has ordered all except the most vital enterprises to cease operations, and its 9 million citizens are prohibited from leaving their homes for any purpose other than the most basic of needs. Similar procedures have been implemented in the city of Jilin’s urban regions.