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All of China’s Jilin Province is under control as COVID-19 cases surge across the country.
Jilin’s daily case count topped 4,067 on Monday alone, leaving health officials scrambling to catch up with the highly transmissible omicron variant.
China is battling the highest level of COVID-19 cases on record, with more than 10,000 cases scattered across 27 provinces and municipalities since the start of this month.
China’s proven method of keeping cases near zero for more than two years has been to trace, test and isolate all infections, their close contacts, and close contacts of those contacts faster than the virus can spread.
In the latest surge, however, the highly transmissible omicron variant moved faster than contact tracing allows.
The result has been a return to full lockdowns for Jilin’s 24 million residents, who are now banned from leaving from Monday and must shelter in their homes. In Shanghai and Beijing, the entire school has been moved online indefinitely.
Langfang in Hebei Province, north of Beijing, as well as the cities of Shenzhen and Dongguan in southern China, have also been under lockdown since Tuesday. Two other cities – Shanghai and Xi’an – have implemented containment measures.
China has previously contained outbreaks of omicron, but none have reached the magnitude of the current outbreak. The pressure is already on, as cities lack isolation facilities to put tens of thousands of close contacts.
Nearby Hong Kong serves as a warning about the cost of failure. The city is still registering more than 26,000 new cases a day and suffers from the highest COVID death rate in the world.