COVID-hit Chinese city tells residents to stay home as holiday starts

BEIJING, Sept 18 (Reuters) – A city in southeast China hit by COVID-19 told residents on Saturday to stay home and closed various venues, as infections spread in the country’s latest hotspot during a key holiday travel season.

The government of Xiamen, in a series of notices, told residents not to leave home unnecessarily, closed parks, scenic spots and sports venues, and halted mass activities including tours, fairs and performances.

The measures – short of a full lockdown – came on the first of the four-day Mid-Autumn Festival holidays, a peak travel season across China.

Xiamen, a scenic city of five million, is one of four cities in the Fujian province – China’s latest coronavirus hotspot – that have reported cases in recent days.

Visitors to Xiamen’s residential compounds are not allowed without approval, non-essential vehicle traffic in and out of residential areas is forbidden, and dining in at restaurants, cafes and other venues is prohibited.

Also a transport hub for southeast China, Xiamen has reported 92 locally transmitted infections in the past week. That is about half the number of nearby Putian, where the first infection in this outbreak was reported on September 10.

The first patient in the Xiamen cluster was a close contact of a case in Putian, Xiamen authorities said on Monday.

Both cities kicked off city-wide testing for the coronavirus on Tuesday.

Since September 10, Fujian province has reported 292 community infections.

The outbreak comes ahead of the week-long National Day holiday starting on October 1, a far busier tourist season than the Mid-Autumn festival.

The last domestic outbreak in late July to August spread to tens of Chinese cities, hammering China’s tourism, hospitality and transportation sectors.

Reporting by Ryan Woo; Editing by William Mallard
IMAGE: Medical workers conduct nucleic acid tests for residents, following new cases of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at a testing site inside a culture and art centre in Xiamen, Fujian province, China September 14, 2021.

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