Global report: Chinese border city enters ‘wartime’ mode to tackle Covid outbreak | World news

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China has locked down a city on its border with Myanmar and launched a campaign to test the city’s entire population of more than 200,000 people.

Officials in Ruili in Yunnan province said the city had entered a state of “wartime” defences against Covid-19 after two new cases emerged among travellers from Myanmar. Residents have been ordered to stay at home and authorities have set up checkpoints to prevent anyone entering or leaving Ruili and restricting access to border areas nearby. Most businesses have been closed.

On Thursday, more than 360 testing sites were set up and almost 1,200 people deployed to conduct testing around the clock. Ruan Chengfa, deputy secretary of Yunnan’s party committee, said in a meeting on Wednesday that local authorities were implementing a strict policy of “complete inspection, strict quarantine. No entry and no exit.” As of Tuesday evening, 60,000 people had been tested.

Officials have also said they would crack down on illegal migration and would deport any residents who could not verify a fixed residence or place of work.

China – which has largely contained the virus with more than 85,000 cases and an official death toll that remains at 4,634 – continues to battle imported cases. On Thursday, the country reported nine new cases as of Wednesday, all of them from travellers coming from overseas.

Chinese health officials have said they believe a vaccine will be available as soon as November or December. Thousands of Chinese health workers and staff of state-owned companies have already received experimental vaccines.

Chinese vaccine maker Sinovac Biotech will begin clinical trials of its experimental vaccine on teenagers and children later this month, according to a registration record published on Wednesday.

The outbreak in Ruili comes as the World Health Organization (WHO) warned Latin American countries not to reopen too fast. WHO regional director Carissa Etienne said on Wednesday that Latin America had started to resume normal social and public life at a time when the pandemic still required major control interventions.

Cases on Colombia’s border with Venezuela have increased ten-fold in the past two weeks, Etienne said in a virtual briefing from Washington with other Pan American Health Organization directors.

Death rates are climbing in parts of Mexico, and similar trends are being seen in Ecuador, Costa Rica and Bolivia, and parts of Argentina, she warned.

Etienne said governments must monitor travel very carefully because reopening to tourism can lead to setbacks. That has happened in the Caribbean, where several countries that had virtually no cases experienced spikes as tourism resumed.

Latin America has recorded around 8.4 million coronavirus cases, and more than 315,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. Both figures are the highest of any region.

India reported another global record jump in daily coronavirus infections with 97,894 cases in the last 24 hours, data from the health ministry showed on Thursday. Coronavirus infections in India surged past 5 million on Wednesday, piling pressure on hospitals grappling with unreliable supplies of oxygen that they need to treat tens of thousands of critical patients.

In the big states of Maharashtra, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh, some of the areas worst affected by the virus, demand for oxygen has more than tripled, doctors and government officials said, prompting urgent calls for help.

There are 29.8 million coronavirus cases worldwide and 939,427 people have died over the course of the pandemic so far.

New Zealand, one of the first countries to virtually eliminate community transmission following one of the strictest lockdowns worldwide, saw its gross domestic product (GDP) fall by 12.2% in the June quarter, the largest quarterly fall since such records began in 1987, as Covid restrictions affected economic activity, Stats NZ said today.

Meanwhile in the United States, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Robert Redfield, has told a Senate panel that he thinks it will take one year before a coronavirus vaccine will be “generally available to the American public”.

That estimation contrasts with recent bullish messaging by Donald Trump, who on Tuesday repeated his assertion that “we’re going to have a vaccine in a matter of weeks” even though a successful vaccine has yet to be unveiled from ongoing US trials. The president later said Redfield must have been “confused”.

  • The number of confirmed cases in Germany increased by 2,194 to 265,857 on Thursday, the second-highest daily total since April.

  • In the US, New York City mayor Bill de Blasio is to furlough himself and his staff for a week in order to close a $7bn budget shortfall created by the pandemic.

  • The average age of people infected with Covid-19 is coming down, according to a World Health Organization expert Dr Maria Van Kerkhove. She told a Q&A that incidences of hospitalisation among those aged 15 to 49 years are increasing and said it was possible for the same person to be infected with influenza and Covid-19.

  • South Africa will reopen its borders to most countries next month, the president said on Wednesday, part of a wider easing of measures announced as figures continue to improve.

Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Global report: Chinese border city enters ‘wartime’ mode to tackle Covid outbreak | World news

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