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On Wednesday, an “emergency state” was declared by a Chinese province of more than 37 million to blow out a bunch of COVID-19 cases, as the country moved conclusively to contain infections. Since the emergence of coronavirus in late 2019 in Wuhan, China has largely brought the virus under control.

But recent weeks have witnessed a handful of cases which required immediate travel restrictions, localized lockdowns and widespread testing of tens of millions of people. In the northern regions of the country, more than 20 million residents are now under some form of lockdown.

With a population of 37.5 million people, Heilongjiang’s government on Wednesday announced an “emergency state”, stating that without absolute necessity, residents do not have to leave the province and to cancel gatherings and conferences. On Wednesday, there were 28 confirmed COVID-19 cases including 12 asymptomatic cases.

With a 5.2 million population Suihua city in Heilongjiang was sealed off on Monday after one confirmed case and 45 asymptomatic cases were reported. Authorities announced on Wednesday, several other small cities would also be placed under travel restrictions or sealed off near Suihua. As per the state media, entertainment venues have been closed in the province of other cities.

Although the numbers are small compared with other countries but ahead of Lunar New Year festival in next month, China is trying to demolish infections as during the festival hundreds of millions of people will travel across the country.

Regarding annual journeys, there are high fears as it is the only chance for migrant workers to see their families, which will be reduced if clusters continue.

On Wednesday, the National Health Commission of China reported 115 new confirmed Covid cases with 90 cases in Hebei province in a cluster which surrounds the Chinese capital Beijing.

Last week, a mass testing drive was launched by the authorities and closed transport links, shops and schools in the epicentre of the latest outbreak – Hebei city of Shijiazhuang. Since last Friday, with 7 million of population, neighbouring Xingtai has also been locked down.

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