Caixin
Sep 17, 2021 07:18 AM
CHINA

Source of Fujian Outbreak May Have Been Infected in Quarantine

Students in Quanzhou are tested for Covid-19.
Students in Quanzhou are tested for Covid-19.

The recent Covid-19 outbreak in southeastern China’s Fujian province was probably caused by a patient who was infected during quarantine, a Chinese health expert said.

The latest outbreak totaled 200 cases in three cities as of Wednesday. The first cases in two students were detected through routine testing at an elementary school. Their father, who returned from overseas in early August, is considered the likely origin.

The father was quarantined in a hotel in Xiamen for 14 days after arriving Aug. 4 on a flight from Singapore, followed by an additional seven-day quarantine at his final destination in Xianyou county about 95 miles from Xiamen. He tested negative nine times during quarantine, according to local health authorities. When he finally tested positive Sept. 10, he had been in the country 38 days.

Based on epidemiological investigations and laboratory testing, it is now believed that the man may have contracted the coronavirus during his second quarantine, said Wang Huaqing, chief expert for China’s immunization program at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, at a press conference Thursday. This led to the further infections, Wang said.

The Fujian outbreak is China’s first to include a significant number of schoolchildren. Since Sept. 10, more than half of the newly confirmed local cases were teachers and students at schools and kindergartens and factory workers, indicating an infection cluster, National Health Commission spokesperson Mi Feng said at the news conference.

After the outbreak, Xiamen and Putian conducted citywide mass testing. That was necessary as the infected include asymptomatic people, who can spread the virus no matter whether they develop into patients or continue as asymptomatic, Wang said.

The education ministry ordered that all students and teachers have negative test results before they return to school this fall. Border areas and other regions with frequent visitors from abroad are encouraged to conduct regular nucleic acid testing for teachers and students, said Wan Lijun, an official with the Ministry of Education.

Starting Tuesday, all kindergartens, primary and middle schools in Xiamen and Putian will be closed, and students have been asked to attend classes online.

More than 90% of Chinese students ages 12 to 17 have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19, state media reported Wednesday, citing the Ministry of Education. In total, more than 1 billion people have been fully vaccinated in China, according to the National Health Commission.

China CDC’s Wang also suggest the vaccination of children younger than 12.

To contain the spread of the disease, more than 10,000 major tourist attractions across the country will be closed for the Mid-Autumn Festival and National Day holidays.

Contact reporter Denise Jia (huijuanjia@caixin.com) and editor Bob Simison (bobsimison@caixin.com)

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