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

A resident undergoes a nucleic acid test for the Covid-19 coronavirus in Xiamen, in China's eastern Fujian province on Saturday, September 18, 2021. - AFP

BEIJING, Sept 18 (Reuters): A city in southeast China hit by Covid-19 told residents on Saturday (Sept 18) 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 Sept 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 Sept 10, Fujian province has reported 292 community infections.

The outbreak comes ahead of the week-long National Day holiday starting on Oct 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.

China reported on Saturday 46 new confirmed coronavirus cases in the mainland for Sept 17, compared with 84 a day earlier, according to the National Health Commission.

Of the new infections, 31 were locally transmitted, all of which were in the southeastern province of Fujian, the health authority said. That compares with 62 local cases a day earlier.

China reported 17 new asymptomatic coronavirus cases, which it does not classify as confirmed infections, compared with 20 a day earlier.

No new deaths were reported.

As of Sept 17, mainland China had recorded 95,623 confirmed cases, with the cumulative death toll unchanged at 4,636. - Reuters

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