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China races to build giant 'quarantine village' for thousands after localised COVID outbreaks

Rebecca Speare-Cole
·3-min read
SHIJIAZHUANG, Jan. 18, 2021 -- Aerial photo taken on Jan. 18, 2021 shows the Huangzhuang apartment COVID-19 quarantine center under construction in Shijiazhuang, north China's Hebei Province.   Construction of the main structures of the Huangzhuang apartment COVID-19 quarantine center in Shijiazhuang is nearing the end. With a total floor area of 34 hectares, the facility will house close contacts or secondary close contacts of COVID-19 confirmed cases. (Photo by Yang Shiyao/Xinhua via Getty) (Xinhua/Yang Shiyao via Getty Images)
Aerial photo shows the Huangzhuang apartment COVID-19 quarantine center under construction in Shijiazhuang, north China's Hebei Province. (Xinhua via Getty)
coronavirus latest news
coronavirus latest news

China is building a massive "quarantine village" capable of holding several thousand people as the country battles with a new surge in COVID-19 infections.

Pictures show crews levelling earth, pouring concrete and assembling prefabricated rooms in farmland in an outlying part of Shijiazhuang, the provincial capital of Hebei province, which has seen the bulk of the new cases.

The complex, called the Huangzhuang apartment COVID-19 quarantine centre, will be able to house more than 3,000 close contacts or secondary close contacts of confirmed cases, according to AP news agency.

The centre’s construction is reportedly nearly finished with a total floor area of 34 hectares.

Read: Matt Hancock announces on Twitter he is self-isolating after receiving alert on NHS COVID app

The buildings are equipped with bathrooms, Wi-Fi and air conditioning, the Straits Times reported.

It comes as China responds to several coronavirus outbreaks across the north east. The country reported another 118 cases on Tuesday, with 43 of those in the province of Jilin.

SHIJIAZHUANG, Jan. 18, 2021 -- Workers build the Huangzhuang apartment COVID-19 quarantine center in Shijiazhuang, north China's Hebei Province, Jan. 18, 2021.   Construction of the main structures of the Huangzhuang apartment COVID-19 quarantine center in Shijiazhuang is nearing the end. With a total floor area of 34 hectares, the facility will house close contacts or secondary close contacts of COVID-19 confirmed cases. (Photo by Yang Shiyao/Xinhua via Getty) (Xinhua/Yang Shiyao via Getty Images)
Workers build the Huangzhuang apartment COVID-19 quarantine centre in Shijiazhuang, north China. (Xinhua via Getty Images)

Hebei province just outside Beijing saw another 35 cases, while Heilongjiang province bordering Russia reported 27 new cases.

Virus clusters also have been found in Beijing and the provinces of Liaoning in the north east and Sichuan in the south west.

The surge in infections has prompted additional lockdowns and travel bans ahead of next month's Lunar New Year holiday.

SHIJIAZHUANG, Jan. 18, 2021 -- Aerial photo taken on Jan. 18, 2021 shows the Huangzhuang apartment COVID-19 quarantine center under construction in Shijiazhuang, north China's Hebei Province.   Construction of the main structures of the Huangzhuang apartment COVID-19 quarantine center in Shijiazhuang is nearing the end. With a total floor area of 34 hectares, the facility will house close contacts or secondary close contacts of COVID-19 confirmed cases. (Photo by Yang Shiyao/Xinhua via Getty) (Xinhua/Yang Shiyao via Getty Images)
Aerial photo taken shows the Huangzhuang apartment COVID-19 quarantine center under construction in Shijiazhuang, north China's Hebei Province. (Xinhua via Getty Images)

Authorities have also called on citizens not to travel, ordered schools closed a week early and conducted testing on a massive scale.

The latest infections spread unusually fast, the National Health Commission said in a statement last week, according to AP.

Watch: COVID-19: How did coronavirus begin? If our journey is anything to go by, China won't make it easy to find out

It said: "It is harder to handle. Community transmission already has happened when the epidemic is found, so it is difficult to prevent."

The commission blamed the latest cases on people or goods arriving from abroad. It blamed "abnormal management" and "inadequate protection of workers" involved in imports but gave no details.

"They are all imported from abroad. It was caused by entry personnel or contaminated cold chain imported goods," the statement added.

In this photo released by China's Xinhua News Agency, workers build a large centralized quarantine facility in Shijiazhuang in northern China's Hebei Province, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. A city in northern China is building a 3,000-unit quarantine facility to deal with an anticipated overflow of patients as COVID-19 cases rise ahead of the Lunar New Year travel rush. (Yang Shiyao/Xinhua via AP)
In this photo released by China's Xinhua News Agency, workers build a large centralized quarantine facility in Shijiazhuang in northern China's Hebei Province. (Xinhua via AP)

The city government of Beijing announced on Saturday that travellers arriving in the Chinese capital from abroad would be required to undergo an additional week of "medical monitoring" after a 14-day quarantine.

China has reported a total of 88,454 cases and 4,635 deaths since coronavirus was first detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019. China does not include people who test positive but have no symptoms in its count.

Read more

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Countries hoarding COVID vaccines will 'prolong the pandemic', WHO chief warns

A multinational team of investigators from the World Health Organization are currently in Wuhan undergoing two weeks of quarantine before beginning field visits in hopes of gaining clues into the origins of the pandemic that has now killed more than two million people.

The virus was first detected in the city of Wuhan in December 2019 before spreading across the world.

WHO has recently told richer countries not to hoard vaccines in a warning against prolonging the global pandemic.

Watch: COVID-19: Ice cream tests positive for coronavirus in China