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  14 Sep 2021, 11:31

China races to squash new Covid-19 cluster among schoolchildren

   BEIJING, Sept 14, 2021 (BSS/AFP) - Southern Chinese cities closed schools

and ordered testing for millions on Tuesday in a race to curb a new Covid-19
outbreak which has sparked concerns over infections among unvaccinated
schoolchildren.

  Putian, a city of 3.2 million in coastal Fujian province, ordered testing
of all residents on Tuesday after Delta variant cases linked to a returnee
from Singapore ballooned into a province-wide outbreak of more than 100
people.

  China has now been hit by multiple outbreaks of the highly contagious Delta
variant after initially vanquishing the first wave of the coronavirus last
year.

  The Fujian cluster is the biggest rebound in weeks and comes after the
country declared the Covid outbreak spurred by the Delta under control, in a
test of China's "zero case" approach to the pandemic.

  China reported 59 new domestically transmitted cases on Tuesday, up from 22
the day before, all in Fujian province.

  Authorities said the cluster's suspected patient zero was a man who had
recently returned from Singapore and developed symptoms after completing a
14-day quarantine and initially testing negative for the virus.

  The man's 12-year-old son and a classmate were among the first patients
detected in the cluster last week, shortly after the new school term began.

  The variant then raced through classrooms, infecting more than 36 children
including 8 kindergartners, city authorities said Tuesday, in the first major
school-linked spread the country has seen since the start of the pandemic.

  China has administered more than two billion doses of its coronavirus
vaccines as of Sunday, according to the official Xinhua news agency, enough
to fully vaccinate around 70 percent of its population.

  But most young children remain unvaccinated, sparking fear that the latest
Fujian outbreak could hit the most vulnerable people in the country
disproportionately.

  The Putian government has ordered schools to stop in-person classes on
Monday, while nearby port city Xiamen followed suit on Tuesday and shut down
long-distance bus services, while ordering all residents to be tested.

  The Chinese embassy in Singapore on Monday warned its citizens to be
"cautious" about travelling to the Southeast Asian country and "be
psychologically and economically prepared" for difficulties re-entering
China.

 

   

 

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