China sends 70,000 Communist Party workers to help city stricken by Covid-19

Vice-premier Sun Chunlan warns the situation in Yangzhou is not yet under control and calls for stricter measures


China is mobilising massive resources to stop the spread of the coronavirus in an eastern city, where Vice-Premier Sun Chunlan warned the situation was not yet under control, according to a state media report on Thursday.

“We should take more resolute and decisive acts and ensure Covid-19 control measures are in place to contain virus transmission as soon as possible,” she said on Wednesday, during an inspection of Yangzhou, the country’s latest pandemic hotspot.

According to state news agency Xinhua, Sun asked local authorities to strictly enforce quarantine for high-risk communities and to protect nursing homes, while completing contact tracing on people at risk should within 24 hours. Testing stations should also be better managed to avoid large crowds from gathering.

Covid-19 Delta variant cluster spreads in China’s eastern Jiangsu province

Eight Yangzhou officials were investigated and warned for mismanaging a Covid-19 testing station which led to more than 40 people being infected. “Substandard set-up and chaotic on-site organisation have caused many people who were in close contact with [a Covid-19 patient] at the test site to be infected, leading to adverse impacts on society,” the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection said.

At least 60 officials across the country have been dismissed, warned or investigated since late July after failing to prevent Covid-19 outbreaks, local media reported.

In the southern city of Guangzhou, the Guangdong Commission for Discipline Inspection said on Thursday 20 officials had been dismissed, demoted and warned over their role in fighting a month-long outbreak which started in May. The director and party secretary of the Guangzhou Health Commission was dismissed, while a deputy city mayor was given an “intraparty warning and administrative demerit”.

Yangzhou reported 37 new infections on Thursday, bringing its total tally in the latest outbreak to 485 cases.

The city’s sixth round of mass testing, which began on Wednesday, found two cases among the nearly 1.6 million people tested. Local authorities said the mass testing campaign did not cover people already under medical observation. Two air-inflated laboratories are in operation which can screen samples from 1.5 million people per day, in batches of 10 to speed up testing.

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More than 70,000 Communist Party members in work teams of 2,500 were deployed to Yangzhou to support quarantined residents, state broadcaster CCTV said. Daily necessities worth 300 yuan (US$46) will also be distributed to 5,000 households in need in the main urban area, Xinhua said.

Hospitals in the city are offering online video consultations and medicine delivery services for non-Covid-19 patients, to minimise coronavirus infection risks.

Meanwhile, authorities in Nanjing, Jiangsu province – the early epicentre of the latest round of outbreaks – said a nurse who worked in a hospital intensive care unit was found to be carrying the virus during routine testing. “The nurse might have been exposed to the virus when treating critically ill patients,” Ding Xiaoping, deputy director of Nanjing’s health commission, told reporters on Thursday.

China has tightened Covid-19 control measures in hospitals to prevent infections within health facilities. Designated hospitals are required to isolate Covid-19 patients in special ward buildings and use different sets of medical equipment to avoid infecting other patients, the guidelines said.

Nationwide, a combined 61 local Covid-19 cases were confirmed across five provinces, with 38 – nearly two-thirds – in Jiangsu province. Two provinces also reported a combined 11 local asymptomatic patients. As of Wednesday, more than 1.8 billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines had been administered in China – or more than 125 doses per 100 people. It is not known how many people are fully vaccinated.