TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS ARE increasing, and lockdowns are being reimposed as the outbreak of Covid-19 that started in Nanjing reaches 15 provinces.
Beijing has suspended inbound travel by rail, bus and air from infected areas. Wuhan, where the first Chinese cases were detected in 2019, is to test its entire population after a handful of cases were reported there.
In Zhangjiajie, a popular tourist destination in Hunan where a theatre was the site of a superspreader event, all places of entertainment have been shut down.
The latest outbreak was first detected on July 20 in Nanjing, with two cleaners of a passenger flight from Russia falling ill.
Reported numbers of cases remain relatively small, especially compared to other countries where daily infections are in the thousands. On Tuesday, health officials reported 90 new cases from the day before, 61 caused by local transmission.
In all, 328 locally transmitted cases were reported in July, as many as in the previous five months, according to state media. Total Delta variant related cases in this outbreak have now topped 400.
However, more than 100 new locally transmitted infections have been reported for the first two days of August. The pace of the spread is picking up rapidly, as is to be expected given the contagiousness of the Delta variant.
This is leading epidemiologists to expand their definition of close contact to include anyone in the same space, workplace, or building as an infected person up to four days before.
However, in Nanjing, the strict countermeasures already taken, including citywide testing, stringent controls on those entering and leaving the city and the sealing off of medical facilities for the aged, seem to be containing the outbreak. Daily new cases are back down to low double figures.
Managing the narrative of successful management of the spike remains a political imperative, as is countering doubts about the effectiveness of Chinese vaccines against so called breakthrough infections of the vaccinated.