A Guangzhou man has been arrested and could face criminal charges for breaking quarantine rules to see his parents then hiding the visit from health workers, as authorities grapple with a Covid-19 outbreak.
Mass testing is under way in the southern city of nearly 19 million people and strict lockdown measures are in place for parts of Liwan, the worst-hit district. Officials on Tuesday said nearly 28 million tests had been carried out in the past two weeks, with 40 positive cases found.
There have also been cases elsewhere in Guangdong province – in Foshan and Shenzhen – since the outbreak emerged on May 21, with the total infections now at 120. Officials said 19 new locally transmitted cases were recorded on Monday, including nine in Guangzhou that were previously classified as asymptomatic.
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Police in the city on Tuesday said a man was arrested after he visited his parents in Liwan district, both of whom had tested positive. They said the man had sought medical treatment for flu symptoms on Wednesday and Friday last week but was not quarantined because he had not told health workers about the visit. He later tested positive.
Deputy police chief Yang Bingsheng said the man had visited a number of places in Panyu district before he was quarantined on Sunday and that anyone who had been to the hotspots also had to go into isolation.
Police said a man was also arrested for allegedly attacking officers when he was asked to take a swab test. A third man was arrested in a separate incident, accused of scuffling with police as he tried to leave a locked down area. And two men were arrested for “spreading rumours” about the outbreak.
Authorities have been concerned that some of the cases in the Guangdong cluster involve the highly transmissible Delta strain that was first detected in India and have been trying to stop the spread with lockdowns in affected areas, travel restrictions imposed across the province and mandatory testing for some. Guangzhou on Monday closed down all cinemas, theatres, dance halls, karaoke venues and internet bars.
Health authorities have warned residents to comply with mass testing requirements. Chen Bin, a spokeswoman for Guangzhou’s Health Commission, said anyone who had been to an area designated high-risk had to get tested at least twice every three days.
“Anyone who doesn’t cooperate with the city’s mass screening efforts will face legal consequences,” she said.
Other cities in the province – including Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Jiangmen and Zhongshan – are also carrying out mass testing. Shenzhen started testing its population of 13 million on Sunday, planning to finish the process on Tuesday.
Provincial health authorities said earlier that they were concerned about the latest outbreak because the Delta variant had a high viral load and an average incubation period of 3.2 days, much shorter than other strains.
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