Fear as COVID-19 returns to Wuhan the City where it’s believed to have emerged

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Chinese health officials disinfecting Qintai Grand Theatre in Wuhan, April 2020; Courtesy Photo

Wuhan, the Chinese City where Coronavirus was first reported has recorded seven locally transmitted cases – the first local infections in more than a year.

Authorities announced on Monday that seven locally transmitted infections had been found among migrant workers in the city, breaking a year-long streak without domestic cases after Wuhan squashed an initial outbreak with an unprecedented lockdown in early 2020.

Photos from Wuhan on Monday showed supermarket shelves stripped bare by shoppers apparently stocking up in preparation of being locked back down, in scenes reminiscent of the panic buying before the city was cut off from the rest of the world for 76 days last year in the first lockdown.

Authorities in Wuhan on Tuesday said they would test its entire 11 million population for Covid-19 in a city. The resurgence has been attributed the spread of the virus to the highly contagious Delta variant and the domestic tourism season.

China has resorted to confining the residents of entire cities to their homes, cutting transport links and rolling out mass testing as the fast-spreading Delta variant challenges its zero-Covid strategy and homegrown vaccines.

Beijing had previously boasted of its success in crushing the virus, allowing the economy to rebound and normal life to return while swathes of the globe have struggled with the pandemic that has killed more than four million people worldwide.

The country reported 61 domestic cases on Tuesday and the latest outbreak is threatening China’s success with more than 400 domestic cases reported since mid-July when a cluster among airport cleaners in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, sparked infections in over 20 cities across more than a dozen provinces.

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

Officials have since been desperately tracking down thousands of fellow theatregoers and urging 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 and asked residents not to leave unless necessary, with top officials vowing over the weekend to “spare no expense” in defending the city.

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