China locks down city of four million people over 39 Covid cases

BEIJING : China placed a city of four million people under lockdown yesterday, ordering them not to leave home except in emergencies, in a bid to eradicate a Covid-19 cluster of just a few dozen confirmed cases.

Yesterday's fresh restrictions came as China reported 29 new domestic infections - including six in Lanzhou, the capital of Gansu province in the country's north-west.

The latest outbreak has been linked to the highly contagious Delta variant, with the tally hitting 198 cases since Oct 17.

Thirty-nine have been in Lanzhou.

Residents of the city will now be required to stay at home, the authorities said in a statement, with the "entry and exit of residents" strictly controlled and limited to getting essential supplies or medical treatment.

Bus and taxi services had already been stopped in the city, and state media said yesterday that Lanzhou station had suspended more than 70 trains, including on key routes to Beijing and Xi'an.

A Southern Airlines representative told AFP that all its flights from Beijing's Daxing airport to Lanzhou were cancelled for public safety reasons, with no resumption date given.

Health officials have warned that more infections may emerge as testing is ramped up in the coming days to fight the outbreak, which has been linked to a group of domestic tourists who travelled from Shanghai to several other provinces.

Strict stay-at-home orders have already been imposed on tens of thousands of people in northern China.

In Beijing - which reported three new cases yesterday - access to tourist sites has been limited and the prominent Lama Temple was shuttered, while residents were advised not to leave the capital unless necessary.

About 23,000 residents in one housing compound in Changping district have been ordered to stay indoors after nine cases were found there in recent days, local outlet Beijing News reported.- AFP