Covid-19 Pandemic

Another Wuhan awaits China at Hebei

By a Correspondent

At the time of writing
Covid-19 Corona virus Pan-
demic shows no sign of going away anytime soon. In truth new infections are on the rise across the globe. While politics of vaccine has its own mechanism to spread panic among people big pharma companies are busy to calculate how to mint billions cashing in on miseries of people. Updated figures for Corona Virus cases worldwide are simply bone-chilling:

Total Corona Virus Cases          90,084,527
Deaths                                                       1,934,925
Recovered                                            64,466,123
infected cases                                    23,683,479
Closed Cases                                       66,401,048
As for India the situation is worsening with every passing day:
Total cases                                           10,461,346
Total deaths                                             1,51,048

Meanwhile surge in Corona cases in new areas in China is a new source of agony.

Amid the Chinese claims of COVID-19 containment, another Wuhan awaits in Hebei province, a geographical buffer zone around the capital Beijing.

Sparkles of cases here and there setting an entire prairie ablaze", said National Health Commission (NHC) and provincial authorities recently after sporadic outbreaks since the New Year in Hebei's capital of Shijiazhuang has grown into bigger clusters that now threaten to spread through the entire city.

Frank Chen writing for Asia Times opined that though strict new lockdown measures imposed on Hebei province's Shijiazhuang but virus may have already spread to the nearby national capital and beyond.

Shijiazhuang, home to more than ten million residents has been put under sweeping and draconian anti-virus measures, just like Wuhan's 76-day lockdown. It is a clear indicator of the grave situation.

Chinese authorities halted public transport in a provincial capital near Beijing on in an effort to stamp out a new cluster of coronavirus infections.

Shijiazhuang, capital of Hebei province which surrounds Beijing, suspended service on the city's subway, then extended the ban to all public transport, including taxis. The province entered a "wartime mode" this week to battle the infections.

At a media conference last week provincial authorities said mass testing for the virus had been conducted for all 11 million residents of Shijiazhuang, as well as the neighboring city of Xingtai.

Ma Yujun, deputy mayor of Shijiazhuang, said the city was working to locate the origin of the outbreakBeijing has gone on an alert mode following a sudden spike in COVID-19 cases in the neighbouring Hebei province while China has administered nine million coronavirus vaccines so far in a stepped-up nationwide drive to contain the virus.

The National Health Commission (NHC) on Saturday reported 33 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases, of whom 17 were locally transmitted and the rest arrived from outside the mainland.

Fourteen locally transmitted cases were reported in north China's Hebei province, the NHC said.

The rise of cases in Hebei sent Beijing on alert as the capital, besides housing the country's top leaders, is getting ready for the annual Parliament session from March 5 during which over 5,000 legislators and advisers would converge.

Beijing is already dealing with a spurt in cases in some of the communities in the suburbs.

Both the legislatures, the National People's Congress (NPC) and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), are set to hold their two week-long meetings beginning March 5.

Beijing has already announced 21-day quarantine for people coming from abroad.

There were 137 locally-transmitted confirmed cases and two imported ones in hospitals in Hebei. In total, the province has recorded 476 locally-transmitted confirmed cases and 36 imported cases.

In view of the increase, Chinese Vice Premier Sun Chunlan rushed to the province on an inspection tour on the instructions of President Xi Jinping. Several local health officials have already been suspended.

To further contain the spread of COVID-19, the city requires all local residents to undertake 7-day home quarantine after citywide nucleic acid tests, official media reports said.

As of  now , the total number of COVID-19 cases in China has gone up to 87,364. According to the NHC, as many as 4,634 people have died as a result of the virus.

As the cases increased, China stepped up vaccination. Over nine million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been inoculated in China, Zeng Yixin, deputy head of the NHC, said.

Those administered vaccines included workers in the cold-chain logistics sector, custom inspectors, health professionals, employees at government agencies and in public service sectors, community workers, as well as people who are to go abroad.

China has granted conditional approval to the first homegrown vaccine developed by state-owned pharmaceutical firm Sinopharm.

Pang Xinghuo, deputy director of the Beijing centre for disease control and prevention, told a news briefing on Saturday that groups like pregnant women, lactating women and patients with some diseases are not suitable for vaccines.

Those patients in acute stage of fever and infection, suffering from immune deficiency or immune disorder, having severe liver or kidney diseases, having uncontrolled hypertension, diabetic complications or malignant tumours not suitable for vaccines at this stage, he said.

Currently, people between 18 and 59 years are arranged to receive the vaccination, and those not in the age group should wait for further data of clinical trials to know whether they could be vaccinated, Pang added.     


Vol. 53, No. 30, Jan 24 - 30, 2021