China has placed tens of thousands of people in lockdown as authorities move to stamp out a resurgence of Covid-19 with the Beijing Winter Olympics just over 100 days away.
A stay-at-home order began on Monday for 35,000 people, including tourists, in Inner Mongolia region after the latest outbreak was traced back to inter-provincial travel groups.
China reported 39 new cases on Monday, bringing the tally from the latest Delta variant-linked outbreak to 133 cases. In just one week, infections have spread to 11 Chinese provinces.
Although the numbers are low compared to the rest of the world, China has pursued a zero-case strategy throughout the pandemic and officials are determined to cut any transmissions leading up to the Winter Olympics.
Beijing has stepped up its Covid measures by postponing a marathon that had been scheduled for the upcoming weekend. Health officials have advised people against large gatherings and “unnecessary” travel out of the capital, though regular transport services out of the city are running normally.
Visitors and residents of Beijing entering the capital from areas that have reported Covid cases must show a negative test.
Beijing put several housing estates into lockdown, local media reported.
One such community of 23,000 people was ordered to stay indoors after nine cases were detected.
Photos showed metal barricades set up to block the perimeter of the compound while officials in hazmat suits stand guard at the blockade.
Beijing has also taken disciplinary action against anyone who breaches pandemic control protocol. Police in the capital have launched criminal investigations into alleged Covid safety breaches.
The incidents involved two infected people who initially concealed their symptoms, and two residents who escaped lockdown by climbing over a fence.
Another investigation is targeting a pair of pharmacy managers who sold cough and fever medicine without registering who was buying it - a legal requirement in China in case the buyer later turns out to have the virus.