China is rushing to eradicate a new Covid-19 cluster in schoolchildren.
On Tuesday, cities in southern China closed schools and ordered millions of people to be tested in an effort to contain a new Covid-19 outbreak that has raised fears about infections among unvaccinated students.
After Delta variant cases connected to a returnee from Singapore exploded into a province-wide outbreak of more than 100 people, Putian, a metropolis of 3.2 million people in coastal Fujian province, ordered testing of all inhabitants on Tuesday.
After defeating the first wave of the coronavirus last year, China has now been attacked by many outbreaks of the extremely dangerous Delta form.
The Fujian cluster is the country’s strongest resurgence in weeks, coming after China deemed the Covid outbreak sparked by the Delta under control, putting China’s “zero case” approach to the pandemic to the test.
On Tuesday, China recorded 59 new domestically transmitted cases, up from 22 the day before, all of which were in Fujian province.
The cluster’s suspected case zero, according to authorities, was a guy who had recently returned from Singapore and exhibited symptoms after completing a 14-day quarantine and testing negative for the virus.
Last week, shortly after the new school year began, the man’s 12-year-old son and a classmate were among the first patients identified in the cluster.
According to local officials, the variation then raced through classrooms, infecting more than 36 children, including eight kindergarteners, in the country’s first large school-linked spread since the pandemic began.
According to the official Xinhua news agency, China had provided more than two billion doses of coronavirus vaccines as of Sunday, enough to fully vaccinate about 70% of the country’s population.
However, the majority of small children are still unvaccinated, raising fears that the latest Fujian outbreak would disproportionately affect the country’s most vulnerable citizens.
On Monday, the Putian administration ordered schools to suspend in-person classes, while Xiamen, a nearby port city, did the same on Tuesday, shutting down long-distance transport services and ordering all citizens to be tested.
The Chinese embassy in Singapore issued a travel warning to its residents on Monday, advising them to be “wary” of visiting the Southeast Asian country and to “be psychologically and financially prepared” for difficulties re-entering China.