People wait in line for nucleic acid testing on May 26, 2021 in Guangzhou, China.
Visual China Group | Getty Images
GUANGZHOU, China — Authorities in southern China’s Guangdong province are conducting massive tests and have sealed off areas to try to contain a flare-up of coronavirus cases in Guangzhou.
The city has cited the Delta strain of the coronavirus, first detected in India, as a driving force behind the rise in cases it has reported since late May. The Delta strain is known for being highly transmissible.
Guangzhou, a city of more than 15 million people and the provincial capital, has reported 96 of more than 100 cases in Guangdong province in this latest outbreak.
China, where the coronavirus first emerged last year, quickly got the epidemic under control and has had very few cases in the past 12 months. However, clusters have sprung up in parts of the country, including major cities such as the capital Beijing and the financial center Shanghai.
The cases in Guangzhou are possibly even more concerning as they involve the Delta strain of the coronavirus, which can spread very quickly.
A 75-year-old woman in Liwan, a district of Guangzhou in the west of the city, was the first confirmed case of the Delta variant on May 21. She visited a restaurant and eventually infected her husband. The latest infections started there and have since spread to other parts of the city.
Liwan, still the worst affected district, has strictly closed certain streets. In some areas, people are not allowed to go outside a certain zone and residents are not allowed to leave their building. Checkpoints have been set up 24 hours a day to monitor movements in and out of these areas.
Restaurants and entertainment venues are also closed.
But the virus has also spread to other parts of the city and county. Foshan, a city just southwest of Guangzhou, has reported cases. On June 4, six members of the same family in Guangzhou’s Nansha district tested positive for the coronavirus. A positive case was found on Sunday at the Chinese tech hub of Shenzhen, home to companies such as Huawei and Tencent.
In other parts of Guangzhou less affected by the latest cluster of cases, some restaurants and bars have started offering takeaway menus.
Mass Testing, Travel Restrictions
After the first case was found, Guangzhou initially conducted massive testing in Liwan, which has since expanded to other areas.
In the central business district known as Zhujiang New Town, residents were asked to take a test at a location near their apartments between Friday and Sunday.
One of those test sites, which was set up on a road full of bars and restaurants, had huge queues on Friday.
Guangzhou conducted more than 16 million tests between May 26 and June 5 at midnight.
In Guangzhou, authorities have imposed stricter travel restrictions. Some metro stations in the city are closed. Authorities have urged people not to leave the city. But if residents have to leave the province, they must have a negative nucleic acid test performed within 48 hours of their departure. Previously, travelers had a 72-hour window.
Hundreds of domestic flights have also been canceled from Baiyun International Airport in Guangzhou.
Self-driving cars that carry supplies
Guangzhou has become a hub for driverless car companies to test their vehicles on public roads. And now that Liwan is locked, these companies transport goods to Liwan with their autonomous vehicles.
Guangzhou-based company WeRide has used its autonomous bus to transport food to Liwan. Pony.ai, another autonomous driving company, has sent its vehicles with supplies to Liwan.
Chinese internet giant Baidu also used its autonomous vehicles to bring food and medical personnel to the affected areas.