On Friday, April 8, Guangzhou started mass COVID-19 testing in 11 districts across the city after two locally transmitted cases and one asymptomatic case were discovered. Zhang Zhoubin, Deputy Director of the Guangzhou Center for Disease and Control said: “The neighborhood is populous and dense, with frequent cross-district traffic. Given the greater transmissibility of omicron, the risk of subsequent spread and difficulty in containing it is extremely high.”
Also on Friday, a number of Guangzhou residents received a text message saying that they had “stayed in an area where the risk of COVID-19 was high” and that they should undergo three nucleic acid tests over the next seven days.
The text message informing close contacts to conduct three COVID-19 tests in seven days. Image via That's
Official figures from the city wide testing that took place on Saturday, released on Sunday morning, showed that 22 new cases had been uncovered.
The whole of Sunday saw 18 locally trasmitted infections.
As of press time, Monday's total number of infected persons in Guangzhou is 27; 18 are symptomatic and nine are asymptomatic.
When Shanghai reported the first COVID-19 case of its latest outbreak back on March 1, unlike Guangzhou, the city did not undertake mass COVID-19, instead opting for localized testing. A citywide lockdown was not imposed until four weeks later on March 28.
Despite the increasing number of cases, the measures taken by the Center for Disease and Control in Guangzhou may help to stop omicron from spreading throughout the city, as the virus is currently largely contained in Baiyun District.
However, many residents have been left angered by the city's response, as people are already being sent to isolation hotels and makeshift hospitals and are not allowed to leave their apartments or buildings.
Here is a list of the measures taken.
Mid- and High-Risk Areas
Pandemic prevention and control staff in San Yuanli, Guangzhou's Baiyun District. Image via Weibo@南方日报
As of press time, there are no high-risk areas in Guangzhou.
Currently, 1008 Sanyuanli Avenue, Baiyun District, where most of the infections have been found, is the only area in the city classified as medium-risk.
Shia, who asked to be referred to by her English name, is a resident of Fuli Peninsula in Baiyun District, 7 kilometers away from 1008 Sanyuanli Avenue. She told That’s that chains were put on the entrance to her building to stop people from leaving after one case was confirmed in the apartment block close to hers.
“I came back home yesterday, and then three buildings, including mine, were all in lockdown, which is fine; I understand because we have a confirmed case. We followed the policies and tried to cooperate. Everything was reasonable, until last night.
“I went downstairs because I heard a noise, then I quickly realized that there was a chain on the door on the first floor.”
Chains fitted to the outside of the only entrace to Shia's apartment block. Image via Shia
Shia informed residents in her building that they were locked inside and they complained to management about the situation. “We were all angry because last year in my community, there was a fire. So, we were very anxious at this point.”
After the residents complained, an unknown person removed the chain from the door when no one was looking.
Locked Down Residents
Image via Pxhere
Currently, many residents in Guangzhou have already been forced to isolate themselves in their apartments. A resident of the city’s Haizhu District, who asked to remain anonymous, told That’s her story.
“I received a text message at around 3pm on Sunday from my landlord saying that the building I live in has a confirmed case and is going to be locked down. When I arrived home, I saw lots of healthcare workers outside the building and they told me that I could go inside, but once inside I wouldn’t be allowed to leave my apartment.”
By the time she arrived home, there were no officialy confirmed cases in her area. The COVID-19 numbers released on Monday morning confirmed that there were two symptomatic cases and one asymptomatic case living in the area.
She went on to say: “We also have a new colleague at work who lives in Jiangnanxi [also in the Haizhu District]. She received a text saying she was a close contact and is now isolating at home.”
The Pazhou exhibition center being converted into a hospital. Image via Weibo@粤港澳小小胖
On Saturday, pictures began circulating on Weibo and WeChat of the Pazhou exhibition center being converted into a make-shift hospital. The following day it was announced during a press conference that the city had already started constructing “two to three” temporary hospitals.
Shia told That’s that people living in the building next to her, where the one confirmed case was found, have already been sent to isolation hotels and quarantine facilities.
“Multiple people were saying that the lady who was infected has gone to a makeshift hospital and her neighbors have been sent to isolation hotels.”
A make-shift hospital in Pazhou's exhibition center under construction. Image via WeChat
Shia mentioned that this was discussed in her community’s WeChat group via voice message. There has been no official announcement that residents are being sent to hotels or quarantine facilities.
Travel Code Star
At midnight on Saturday, people in Guangzhou discovered that their travel code (行程吗 xing cheng ma) had been updated with a star.
The travel code says that “The * means that this city [Guangzhou] currently has a mid or high-risk area, but it does not mean that the user has actually visited these mid- or high-risk areas.”
The current travel code for Guangzhou residents. Image via That's
While planning a trip to Chongqing, staff at That’s reached out to the popular travel company Ctrip to understand more about what the star means if you are planning on traveling.
They told us that if you are traveling to a low-risk area with a star on your travel code, you need to do two COVID-19 tests three days prior to departure. This will allow you to board trains and airplanes and check-in to your hotel normally.
Below is a screenshot of our conversation history (Chinese).
Conversation history between Ctrip and That's. Image via That's
The information we provided from Ctrip is true to what they know about travel from Guangzhou to Chongqing.
There is no official policy from local governments saying that a star on your travel code means you cannot visit local attractions in the area you have traveled to. However, an individual who wished to remain anonymous told us that he was refused entry to several places because of the star.
“The places where you need to buy a ticket to get in to wouldn’t let me in. Those places that don’t require a ticket would let me in. You often need to go to the hospital for a nucleic acid test.”
See our conversation history below (Chinese).
A local Guangzhou resident informed us that when he went to Lijiang, Yunnan, he was refused entry because of the star on his travel code. Image via WeChat
When the individual set off from Guangzhou to Yunnan, his travel code did not have a star but it updated while he was in Lijiang.
Guangzhou has advised residents not to leave the city, unless absolutely necessary.
If you do plan on traveling, check the most recent policy updates by calling 12345. While out of town ensure you check for updates in relation to returning to Guangzhou.
Image via Weibo@广东发布
Kindergartens, primary and middle schools across Guangzhou and Foshan have suspended onsite classes from Monday April 11-17.
The announcement was made during a press conference held by the Information Office of Guangzhou Municipal People’s Government.
Students in Grade 12 who are preparing for the gaokao (College Entrance Exam) have been told that they are permitted to stay on campus, should the school provide dormitories and remain under closed management.
Training institutes have also been asked to suspend face-to-face activities.
Staff in many training institutes in the city are still required to work from the office despite switching to online lessons on Thursday.
An English teacher, who lives in Panyu and works in a training institute in the district, requested to remain anonymous but did tell us: “It seems illogical to travel across the city when it is far easier and safer to work from home. They care more about profits than our safety.”
Announcements were made at a press conference on Monday. Image via Weibo@Guangzhou-China
Haizhu District announced today that all restaurants in the area would close for dine-in services and will only operate on a takeaway basis for the next seven days.
Baiyun and Panyu districts have suspended dining in restaurants until further notice, while Zengcheng district has said it will stop for two days. Tianhe restaurants are currently operating at limited capacity.
All districts have stopped business operations for gyms, KTV clubs, internet cafes, bars and other recreational activities such as pool halls, escape rooms and massage parlors. Some distrcits have suspended these activities indefinitely while others are doing so for two to seven days.
Public Transport Closures
An empty metro in Guangzhou during rush hour. Image via Weibo@2020Evelyn
Currently, public transport has not ceased operation in the city but there have been closures to several bus stops and metro stations where positive cases have been found.
When planning your journey, your phone’s maps APP (except Google maps) will inform you of any changes or closures on your route.
Routes with closure or disruption will be marked on your phone's maps APP. Image via That's
[Cover image via Weibo@36氪]