India’s second coronavirus wave finally crested during the month of May as the 7-day average declined steadily over the course of the month, while deaths remained stubbornly high until the second half. But even more than the numbers, the spread of a mutated COVID strain first discovered in India, a strain tagged with the handle B.1.617, has raised alarm as it spread around the world.
And now China is reacting to evidence of a recent cluster of cases caused by the Indian variant to further tighten China’s border between India and their mutual neighbors. After imposing a new border at the summit of Mt Everest ostensibly to keep climbers from Nepal, which has also seen a surge in cases attributed to spillover from India, from crossing over, a partial lockdown has been imposed in the Chinese city of Guangzhou, where the cluster of cases was discovered.
It has been months since China imposed the last partial lockdowns associated with COVID, which was put in place in January during an outbreak in and around the province of Hebei, which is near Beijing.
People leaving the city, which is also the provincial capital and has a population of more than 15MM, must test negative for the virus within 72 hours before their trip. Already, some 520 flights have been cancelled at Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport, one of the world’s busiest air travel hubs, as of 1140 local time on Monday.
Earlier, authorities announced stay-at-home orders for residents of several streets in the city’s Liwan District, where the first infected patient was discovered on May 21. Chen Bin, the deputy chief of the provincial health commission, confirmed to Xinhua that all locally transmitted cases found in Guangzhou since May 21 had been linked to the B.1.617 Indian variant.
China has largely managed to contain the spread of COVID-19 since the outbreak began in Wuhan around December 2019. While cases have (officially) slowed to a crawl, scrutiny of the virus’s origins has intensified amid a growing body of evidence that the virus escaped from a lab in Wuhan, while geneticists are finding even more evidence that the vaccine was likely human-made, the result of “gain of function” research that Dr. Fauci and others have championed (Dr. Fauci even argued that the potential risks of a global pandemic are outweighed by the potential benefit to society) for years.