Chinese authorities have enforced a lockdown in a county in North China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region in a bid to curb the latest outbreak of novel coronavirus infections in the country.
The decision was taken after the county – Alxa Left Banner – reportedly accounted for nearly one-third of the more than 150 Covid-19 infections reported in China over the past week. Home to a population of 1.8 lakh, Alxa Left Banner borders Mongolia.
As many as 35,700 residents of Ejin Banner, an administrative division in Alxa Left Banner, have been asked to stay at home. Similar orders have been issued in the city of Erenhot.
The local government has warned of civil and criminal cases against anyone who is found in violation of the order, according to a report by Chinese state broadcaster CCTV.
Another report by state-run Global Times suggested that six officials, including a local health commissioner in Ejin Banner, have been “sacked” over their “slack response and ineffective management” of the current outbreak.
On Sunday, China’s National Health Commission (NHC) had warned that the current outbreak of novel coronavirus infections has spread to 11 provinces over a period of seven days. The Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region accounted for half of the 38 new cases of infection reported in China on Monday.
Travel restrictions have been imposed in parts of China, including Beijing, Gansu, Ningxia, and Guizhou, in a bid to contain the outbreak. All train services and tours have also been temporarily suspended in select provinces.
File photo of people wearing face masks in Beijing | AP
NHC official Wu Liangyou, in a briefing in Beijing, attributed the current outbreak to the highly transmissible delta variant. This is the third outbreak of Covid-19 infections in China since the beginning of this year.
Authorities in China have now ramped up contact tracing to curb the spread of local transmission.
In August of this year, the Chinese government had claimed to have administered 2 billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines.
(With inputs from Reuters)