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    How Four Chinese Cities Are Responding as Case Counts Rise

    The hardest-hit cities are in full lockdown. Shanghai and Shenzhen, with under 10 cases per 100,000, are not far off.

    On March 16, China added 1,226 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 1,206 asymptomatic infections. They’re part of the country’s biggest outbreak since the first wave in 2020, and local governments are scrambling to contain the spread.

    So far, the outbreak has reached many parts of the country, including the northeastern Jilin and Liaoning provinces, the northern Hebei province, and eastern provinces including Shandong, Fujian, and Zhejiang, as well as Shanghai.

    National guidelines published by the National Health Commission provide a rough playbook for containment, but each city is making its own calls about when to impose different measures.

    Sixth Tone selected four of the hardest-hit cities to compare prevention measures.

    With the majority of the country’s cases, Jilin province shut things down fast.

    The province’s Jilin City, which had 115 cases per 100,000 people as of March 15, issued nine citywide quarantine measures on March 6 and 7. It also conducted eight rounds of nucleic acid testing on all the citizens over 13 days. But its case numbers are still exploding, hitting 4,472 on March 15.

    Jilin’s provincial capital Changchun is also battling a major outbreak. From March 11 to 12, daily confirmed cases soared from 63 to 831. On March 11, the city required all residents to stay home, work online, and undergo daily nucleic acid testing. On March 14, Changchun announced a citywide lockdown.

    The larger cities of Shanghai and Shenzhen, which have only 0.4 and 4 cases per 100,000, have taken a more flexible approach. Shanghai shut down a large number of parks and other public places starting March 5. Much of the city’s population is currently being kept at home for testing as part of what the government calls its “key areas” approach, but some shops and residential areas remain open.

    The outbreak in Shenzhen began earlier, in mid-February. Its response also provided an example for other cities as to how to balance the needs of everyday life with COVID-19 over a long period of time. Shenzhen’s preliminary measures have been based on the strict delineation of infected areas, with different zones defined by their perceived risk each being put under different forms of quarantine.

    As of now, confirmed cases in the four cities are still rising. Only time will tell whether the current measures succeed in curbing the outbreak. As more data comes in, Sixth Tone will update these charts to illustrate how cities respond — and what effect the measures have.

    Editor: David Cohen.