Covid: China places 20,000 inhabitants in forced quarantine

China has forcibly quarantined 20,000 rural residents in a Covid-19 outbreak, according to state media, with the country announcing on Friday a number of new patients not seen since March.

The Asian country remains calm, however: it has largely stemmed the epidemic since the spring, thanks to massive screenings, confinements, the filtration of travelers from abroad or the tracking of trips.

The Ministry of Health reported on Friday 144 new patients with Covid-19. Compared to Europe or the United States, the figure is extremely low. But it wasn’t as high in China since March 2, 2020.

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Most of the new cases are recorded in Hebei (north), the province that surrounds Beijing and where 22 million people are already subject to some form of containment.

This small epidemic resurgence seems to be the result of the virus circulating in the rural areas of some large cities, in particular Shijiazhuang, the provincial capital and epicenter of the new outbreak.

More than 20,000 inhabitants of surrounding villages have been placed in quarantine in establishments planned by the authorities, said public television CCTV.

“It is natural that they are anxious and panicked,” Liu Jinpei, psychologist at the shelter, told the channel. The authorities have also set up a telephone number to provide psychological support.

China is trying to avoid any surges in infections as the Lunar New Year holidays approach (February 11-17), which sees hundreds of millions of Chinese people take transport to return to their families each year.

The Chinese Ministry of Health reported Thursday the first death from Covid-19 in nearly eight months in the country.

A team from the World Health Organization (WHO) arrived the same day in the city of Wuhan (center), the first to be affected by the epidemic at the end of 2019, to investigate the origin of the new coronavirus .

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