China sends 20,000 people to state-run quarantine facilities

16 January, 2021 12:00 AM printer

BEIJING: China has sent over 20,000 rural residents living in the epicentre of the country’s latest virus outbreak to state-run quarantine facilities, as Beijing on Friday reported the worst nationwide figures since March, reports AFP.

The country had largely brought the virus under control after strict measures including mass testing and travel restrictions, but recent weeks have seen numbers climbing again, especially in the north, prompting a fresh wave of lockdowns.

Another 144 infections were reported by the National Health Commission on Friday — the highest single-day tally since March last year — mostly in Hebei province where more than 22 million people are in lockdown.

The surge appears to be fuelled by so-called “silent infections” — or asymptomatic cases — in mostly rural areas on the outskirts of cities.

Over 20,000 residents from villages around Shijiazhuang — about 294 kilometres (180 miles) southwest of Beijing — have been sent to state-run quarantine facilities starting from Wednesday, state broadcaster CCTV said.

The villagers are being housed in hotels, according to CCTV, with family members separated into different rooms.

“It’s natural that they feel anxious and panic,” Liu Jinpei, a psychologist at the centre, told CCTV, adding that authorities had set up a mental health hotline.

Officials are also rushing to build a massive new “centralised medical observation centre” in the area with over 3,000 makeshift beds to isolate those at risk of contracting the virus.