China on Monday sealed off the northeastern province of Jilin with over 24 million people following a sharp rise in Covid-19 cases, the first time an entire province has been cut off since the unprecedented lockdown of the central province of Hubei and its capital, Wuhan, in 2020, where the virus was first detected in late 2019.
The lockdown of Jilin province comes a day after China placed 17.5 million residents of the southern city of Shenzhen, a technology and business hub, in a lockdown for at least a week over a rise in cases.
China’s authorities are scrambling to control a country-wide surge in cases with mass tests, lockdowns and travel restrictions with new infections being reported from Shanghai in the east to Shenzhen in the south besides clusters in Beijing and in populous provinces like Zhejiang.
Mainland China reported 1,337 new domestically transmitted Covid cases on March 13, the national health commission (NHC) said on Monday.
Overall, 2125 cases including asymptomatic ones were reported on Monday for Sunday.
That brought the total this year to more than 9,000, compared with 8378 in 2021, according to Reuters calculations.
People in Jilin province, which borders Russia and North Korea, have been asked not to leave or travel, particularly those in the provincial capital of Changchun and the eponymous city of Jilin.
Jilin province reported 895 locally transmitted Covid-19 cases, and 131 asymptomatic carriers on Sunday.
Of the newly confirmed infections, 453 were reported in the city of Jilin, and 430 were reported in the provincial capital Changchun, a city of over nine million people already undergoing a lockdown.
Local authorities have conducted multiple rounds of mass nucleic acid testing and built makeshift hospitals to contain the latest outbreak, official news agency Xinhua reported.
China has followed a strict “zero-Covid” policy, which has lately been tweaked to “dynamic zero” policy, which essentially aims to stamp out outbreaks and chains of transmission through mass testing, tracing contacts, quarantine and lockdowns.