China's Coronavirus Crisis Pounds Coastal Resort City

China's Coronavirus Crisis Pounds Coastal Resort City

Northeast China’s Dalian city documented 52 new coronavirus cases on Thursday — more than double the number of such infections detected a day earlier — prompting the coastal tourist hub and major port to “limit outbound travel, cut offline school classes, and close a few cultural venues,” Reuters reported Friday.

Dalian’s daily coronavirus tally of 52 on November 11 was higher than that of any other Chinese city affected by a nationwide epidemic of the disease that sparked on October 17.

China’s National Health Commission reacted to Dalian’s infection surge on Thursday by pressuring the city to limit transmission of its unusually high caseload.

“Various measures should be quickened and their quality should be improved, in order to get the outbreak under control in a shorter amount of time and to minimize the outbreak’s impact on manufacturing and life of the general public,” the commission’s local director in Dalian said in a statement issued November 11.

Dalian’s coronavirus outbreak began sometime in “early November” according to a report by China’s state-run Global Times on November 12. Shortly after detecting Dalian’s first coronavirus case earlier this month, the city’s government banned non-essential travel out of all local “airports, railways, ports and other transportation hubs,” the newspaper recalled.

“Entrances of 36 toll stations of Dalian highway are closed, only vehicles for anti-epidemic use are allowed to pass,” the Global Times detailed. “The other 16 toll stations in Dalian remain open but only people who possess green health QR codes, negative nucleic acid test results, and a pass issued by local government can pass.”

Dalian’s travel restrictions caused the number of people traveling out of the city to drop “by 96.5 percent to 918 per day on average,” Reuters reported November 12 citing an unnamed local transportation official.

Dalian’s government has additionally ordered all of its public kindergartens, primary schools, and high schools to suspend in-person lessons in response to the coronavirus outbreak. Most of Dalian’s major public spaces, including several municipal libraries and museums, have been forced to shutter in recent days. Dalian municipal officials on November 12 urged all 7.5 million residents of the city “not to leave their home unless it is necessary,” according to Reuters.

China says it has detected 1,149 coronavirus cases between October 17 and November 11 as part of its response to the latest resurgence of the disease, which has spread to at least 20 provinces. Chinese Communist Party officials claim to have traced the outbreak to a Chinese tour group that traveled from Shanghai to China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region in early October. Some of the travel group’s members allegedly contracted coronavirus while visiting the Inner Mongolian city of Ejin Banner. The frontier town serves as a major port between China and Mongolia.

“Health experts noted that exchanges of people and goods at the China-Mongolia port in Ejin Banner are highly likely to be the source of this round of infections, as almost all domestically transmitted cases were from tour groups,” the Global Timesreported on October 25.

Gabrielle Reyes