China’s Guangzhou mass-tests, cancels flights after suspected COVID-19 case

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BEIJING – The Chinese megacity of Guangzhou canceled hundreds of flights on Thursday (Apr 28) and began mass testing of 5.6 million people following a suspected COVID-19 case, as the battle to contain the coronavirus surges throughout the country.

China is experiencing its biggest epidemic since the peak of the first wave in early 2020, with dozens of daily deaths in eastern Shanghai and the capital Beijing closing off entire neighborhoods where a couple of cases have been found.

China has used lockdowns, mass testing, and travel restrictions to eradicate illnesses under its zero-COVID policy.

The technique is under threat, since the highly transmissible Omicron variety evades health regulations.

Rolling viral restrictions, including a weeks-long lockdown of almost all of Shanghai’s 26 million citizens, have harmed the economy, generating backlogs at the world’s busiest container port, a critical component in the global supply chain.

Guangzhou, a major trade and manufacturing hub in southern China, announced mass testing for about a third of its nearly 19 million citizens on Thursday, following the discovery of a “odd” test result at its airport, where most flights have been canceled.

Meanwhile, the IT metropolis of Hangzhou, near Shanghai, required 9.4 million downtown residents, out of a total population of 12.2 million, to be tested every 48 hours if they wish to use public places and transportation.

The goal is “that the virus has nowhere to hide or dwell,” according to the local authorities, prompting concerns about additional restrictions in a city home to some of China’s largest corporations.

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