All 9.3million people living in Nanjing (pictured) have been ordered to take a PCR test while contact tracing and testing is underway in at least 13 other cities where the virus has spread. -EPA
China has been hit by what state media has called its 'most extensive outbreak of Covid since Wuhan' after cases of the highly-infectious Delta variant escaped from border quarantines.The country, which has prided itself on its zero tolerance approach to Covid, has reported 206 new cases since July 20 linked to an outbreak in the city of Nanjing.That outbreak began when airport workers who had cleaned a plane that arrived from Russia tested positive, and has since spread to five provinces and at least 13 cities, including the capital Beijing.
While the number of cases is relatively small they are spread out across the country, prompting state media to compare it to the initial outbreak in Wuhan in 2019. All flights from Nanjing airport have been suspended until at least August 11 to try and contain the outbreak, while all 9.3million people living in the city have been ordered to take PCR tests.
Hundreds of thousands of people have been locked down in Jiangsu province, of which Nanjing is the capital, while 41,000 came under stay-at-home orders in Beijing's Changping district. Sichuan and Liaoning provinces have also reported cases, as has Hunan province - where the original outbreak began - after four people who had attended an open-air event in the city of Zhangjiajie tested positive.Two people identified as close contacts of those cases subsequently tested positive after travelling to Beijing.
Hebei province and Inner Mongolia have also been carrying out testing and contact tracing after it was revealed people had travelled there from Nanjing.Another outbreak has also hitting Yunnan province after Chinese people who had visited neighbouring Myanmar - where cases are surging due to the Delta variant - tested positive after arriving home.
The Delta variant, which first emerged in India and is much more transmissible than the original version of Covid, has proved particularly hard to control for many countries which until now had relied on border closures to keep cases low.Couple with low vaccination rates, such countries - most of which are in Asia - are now seeing cases rise to record or near-record levels with leaders rushing to impose lockdowns.
Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia have all seen cases skyrocket in recent weeks, having previously been hailed virus success stories.Cases are also at or near all-time highs in Japan and South Korea, though strict domestic lockdown measures there have slowed the kind of exponential growth that is being seen elsewhere.
Australia is also struggling to bring and outbreak of the Delta variant under control, with the city in Sydney currently in the midst of its longest lockdown since the initial wave of the virus hit back in 2020.The Delta variant is more transmissible than the pathogens that cause SARS, Ebola and smallpox, and as easily spread as chickenpox, according to an internal US Centers for Disease Control presentation reported by The Washington Post and The New York Times.
The Philippines next week will send more than 13 million people in the national capital region back into lockdown because of a Delta-linked increase, the government said Friday.The variant has also been linked to around half of new cases in Tokyo.Japan on Friday extended a virus state of emergency in the capital a week into the Olympics, with the city reported a record number of new cases the day before.
Meanwhile, Australia said Friday it would reopen borders and end lockdowns when vaccination rates reach 80percent. The United States ramped up efforts to get people vaccinated in the face of a Delta variant-fuelled surge.With infections and hospitalisations rising, President Joe Biden asked every US federal worker to either declare they are fully vaccinated or wear masks and be tested.'People are dying - and will die - who don't have to die,' Biden said Thursday.
'If in fact you are unvaccinated, you present a problem - to yourself, to your family, and to those with whom you work.'The president also said he would ask the Pentagon to consider making the coronavirus vaccine mandatory for active duty military personnel, and asked state and local governments to offer $100 to holdouts who get the shot.Later, the Pentagon said all its military and civilian personnel would require masks, regular testing and travel restrictions if they are unvaccinated.The CDC has already asked people in virus hotspots - including the vaccinated - to wear masks indoors again.
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