Millions of people were confined to their homes in China Monday as the country tried to contain its largest coronavirus

China reported 55 new locally transmitted cases on Monday as an outbreak of the fast-spreading Delta variant reached over 20 cities in more than a dozen provinces.

The Wuhan cluster came after the official daily tally was released, but it was confirmed by state media which said the infections had been traced to a train station.

‚ÄúThe seven were identified as migrant workers,‚ÄĚ Xinhua reported, citing Covid-19 prevention and control officials.

Major cities including Beijing have now tested millions of residents while cordoning off residential compounds and placing close contacts under quarantine.

Authorities in the capital met and agreed on the need to ‚Äúraise vigilance, take strict precautions and defend (the city) to the death, sparing no expense,‚ÄĚ in comments put out by the Beijing government.

Staff members disinfect a residental area after a resident was infected with the Covid-19 coronavirus in Yantai, in China’s eastern Shandong province on August 1, 2021.
STR / AFP

Elsewhere, over 1.2 million residents were placed under strict lockdown for the next three days in the central city of Zhuzhou in Hunan province Monday, as authorities roll out a citywide testing and vaccination campaign, according to an official statement.

‚ÄúThe situation is still grim and complicated,‚ÄĚ the Zhuzhou government said.

China had previously boasted of its success in bringing domestic cases down to virtually zero after the coronavirus first emerged in Wuhan, allowing the economy to rebound.

But the latest outbreak, linked to a cluster in the city of Nanjing where nine cleaners at an international airport tested positive on July 20, is threatening that success with more than 360 domestic cases reported in the past two weeks.

In the tourist destination of Zhangjiajie, famed for its national forest park, an outbreak spread last month among theatre patrons who then brought the virus back to their homes around the country.

Zhangjiajie locked down all 1.5 million residents on Friday.

A resident receives a nucleic acid test for the Covid-19 coronavirus in Nanjing in China’s eastern Jiangsu province on August 2, 2021, amid the country’s most widespread coronavirus outbreak in months.
STR / AFP

Officials are urgently seeking people who have recently traveled from Nanjing or Zhangjiajie, and have urged tourists not to travel to areas where cases have been found.

Meanwhile, Beijing has blocked tourists from entering the capital during the peak summer holiday travel season.

Only ‚Äúessential travellers‚ÄĚ with negative nucleic acid tests will be allowed to enter after the discovery of a handful of cases among residents who had returned from Zhangjiajie.

Top city officials on Sunday called for residents ‚Äúnot to leave Beijing unless necessary‚ÄĚ.

The capital’s Changping district locked down 41,000 people in nine housing communities last week.

Fresh cases were also reported on Monday in the popular tourist destination of Hainan as well as in flood-ravaged Henan province, national health authorities said.

AFP

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