China builds huge quarantine center

The quarantine center in Shijiazhuang, near Beijing, January 21, 2021. – STR / CNS / AFP

To fight against an outbreak of coronavirus 300 kilometers south of Beijing, China has been building a giant quarantine center for a week, with hundreds of workers who take turns 24 hours a day.

It is thanks to quarantines, but also to the screening of travelers arriving from abroad, to the tracking of trips or to mandatory screening that China has largely stopped the epidemic since the spring of 2020. Since mid-May, only one death was recorded in China last week.

A facility similar to the one built in Wuhan

But the occurrence of hundreds of Covid-19 cases in recent weeks – even if they are very far from reaching the levels recorded in Europe and the United States – has provoked a strong response, with confinements and mandatory testing. The current focus at Shijiazhuang (11 million inhabitants), capital of the Hebei province (north) which surrounds Beijing, has thus pushed the authorities to build a large quarantine center there to isolate people at risk.

On Tuesday, hundreds of workers, assisted by cranes, were assembling white prefabricated rooms on a vast earthy lot on the outskirts of the city. Scenes that recall the building in a few days last year of makeshift hospitals in Wuhan (center), the Chinese city where the new coronavirus was detected for the first time.

A capacity of 4,000 people

The quarantine center under construction in Shijiazhuang will be equipped with bathrooms, hot water, Wi-Fi and air conditioning. Once completed, in a few days according to the media, it will host contact cases. The center will be able to accommodate more than 4,000 people in total, according to national television. Its construction began on January 13, amid the emergence of small outbreaks of Covid-19 in cities in northern China.

Millions of residents have been placed there in some form of containment. They have also undergone mandatory testing, some twice. China is vigilant, a few weeks before the Lunar New Year holidays (February 11-17). They usually cause massive influxes in the transport of people returning home for the family holiday – the most important of the year in the country.

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