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China’s Covid outbreak still not at a turning point: Hospital director

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Medical workers collect swab samples from residents of a Covid-19 testing site in Qiaoxi Township in Shijiazhuang, capital of north China’s Hebei Province, on Jan. 7, 2021.

Yang Shiyao | Xinhua News Agency | Getty Images

BEIJING – Beijing remains on the lookout for a recurrence of Covid-19 infection as neighboring Hebei Province continues to report new cases every day.

Hebei reported an increase in cases earlier in the year. In the last week or so, the province closed its own capital and at least two other areas to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

“The turning point has not yet come (for Hebei),” Gao Yan, director of the Infectious Diseases Department at Peking University People’s Hospital, told reporters on Friday. That comes from a CNBC translation of her Mandarin-language remarks.

Due to previous outbreaks in China, it usually takes about a month to reach a tipping point.

Hebei Province reported 90 new confirmed cases on Thursday, bringing the total number of current cases to more than 550. The majority are in the capital, Shijiazhuang, about three and a half hours by car southwest of Beijing.

Targeted measures in Beijing, such as tracking down people in contact with Hebei cases, are sufficient for the time being, Gao said. She said the likelihood of the Chinese outbreak recurring last year was “very, very small”.

Covid-19 first appeared in the Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019. The authorities did not lock the city until more than a month later. More than 4,000 people have died from the virus in China, according to Johns Hopkins University. The disease has killed more than 1.9 million people worldwide.

Beijing launched a city-wide vaccination campaign with more than 200 vaccination centers on January 1, 2021 to ensure critical staff are vaccinated before the New Year celebrations. Hundreds of millions of people usually travel the month around the public holiday, which officially falls in mid-February of this year.

According to official figures, in about two weeks from 5 p.m. local time on Thursday, the capital administered 1.5 million vaccine doses. At least for a large vaccination center in the Chaoyang district – where large foreign companies and embassies are located – the vaccines came from the state-owned Sinopharm company.

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