BEIJING, Sept. 14 (BNA) – New local COVID-19 infections more than doubled in southeast China’s Fujian Province, health authorities said Tuesday, prompting officials to take swift measures including travel restrictions to stem the spread of the virus.
The National Health Commission said 59 new locally transmitted cases were reported on September 13, up from 22 the day before. Reuters reported that all of them were in Fujian Province, which borders Zhejiang to the north and Guangdong to the south.
In just four days, a total of 102 community infections were reported in three cities in Fujian, including Xiamen, a tourism and transportation hub of 5 million people.
The infection comes ahead of the week-long National Day holiday that begins on October 1, a major tourist season. The most recent domestic outbreak in late July to August has disrupted travel, hitting the tourism, hospitality and transportation sectors.
The outbreak of Fujian disease began in Putian, a city of 3.2 million people, with the first case reported on September 10. Initial tests on samples from some Putian cases showed that the patients had the highly contagious delta form.
The virus has since spread south to Xiamen, which reported 32 new cases of community transmission on Sept. 13, compared with just one the day before.
“The Putian government is a big customer for us,” said an employee of a building surveying company in Xiamen, who declined to be named.
“About half of our company went to Putian last week. They are now isolated at home, while the rest have gone for their Covid tests.”
Like Putian, Xiamen has closed some high-risk areas for viruses, cut lessons in kindergartens, primary and secondary schools, closed public places such as cinemas, gyms and bars, and asked residents not to leave the city for non-essential reasons. .
Xiamen authorities said late Monday that the first patient in the Xiamen group had close contact with a case in Putian.
Known for its mild weather and relaxed lifestyle, Xiamen is a popular tourist destination locally.
Xiamen Gaoqi International Airport is also a major transportation hub connecting the Yangtze River and the Pearl River Delta. About 60% of flights to and from Xiamen were canceled on Tuesday, according to flight data provider Variflight.
Both Putian and Xiamen began citywide testing for the coronavirus on Tuesday. However, cities have yet to announce tight citywide lockdowns as seen in early 2020 in China.
Three new cases of community transmission were also reported in the nearby city of Quanzhou, compared to six the day before. Variflight data showed that 70% of Quanzhou flights were cancelled.
One district in Quanzhou, where many cases operate in or visited Putian, has suspended bus services, closed some public places, suspended dining in restaurants, and told residents to avoid non-essential trips outside the district.
“Wave after wave,” said a bank manager in Xiamen. “It feels like the new normal now.”