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New coronavirus outbreak prompts China to lock down university campus

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
                                People wearing face masks to protect against COVID-19 wait in line to enter a store at an outdoor shopping center in Beijing, Saturday.

    ASSOCIATED PRESS

    People wearing face masks to protect against COVID-19 wait in line to enter a store at an outdoor shopping center in Beijing, Saturday.

BEIJING >> China has confined nearly 1,500 university students to their dormitories and hotels following an outbreak of COVID-19 in the northwestern city of Dalian.

The order was issued Sunday after several dozen cases were reported at Zhuanghe University City and hundreds of students were transferred to hotels for observation.

Students were attending class remotely and having their meals delivered to their rooms.

The lockdown is the latest example of China’s zero-tolerance approach to the outbreak, which has brought considerable disruption to people’s lives and livelihoods.

Quarantines, obligatory testing and travel restrictions have become the new normal for much of the population. The country’s vaccination rate is among the world’s highest and authorities are beginning to administer booster shots as winter descends.

While those measures have met little open resistance, the recent killing of a quarantined person’s pet dog by health workers brought a wave of complaints online. The incident in the central city of Shangrao prompted local authorities to issue a statement saying the pet owner and health workers had “reached an understanding.”

Following the incident, the China Small Animal Protection Association called for a quarantine system to care for pets caught in such situations.

“Pets are people’s spiritual partners and should not be harmed under the pretext of fighting the pandemic,” it said in a statement. “If you bring the hand of doom down on an innocent life without the slightest ability to defend itself, then how can you even talk about humanitarianism?”

Among other new measures, Beijing starting Wednesday will require all people arriving from other parts of the country by plane, train, bus or car to produce a negative virus test taken over the previous 48 hours.

Despite isolated cases in various parts of the country, China has been able to suppress major outbreaks over the past year, with its total number of reported cases standing at 98,315 with 4,636 deaths.

On Monday, the National Health Commission announced 32 new cases of local transmission over the previous 24 hours, 25 of them in Dalian.

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