SHANGHAI -- Facing fresh coronavirus outbreaks in Xinjiang and Qingdao, China has intensified efforts to contain infections through widespread testing and travel restrictions.
The country has kept the coronavirus largely at bay in recent months, thanks to extensive testing and drastic measures such as large-scale lockdowns. Still, recent case surges fuel concerns that China is on the cusp of another wave of infections.
A factory worker in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region tested positive in a polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, screening on Saturday. Follow-up tests among the patient's close contacts uncovered 137 new cases, and the area surrounding the factory has been locked down.
"We are taking extensive measures to prevent a further spread of infections," a health official in Xinjiang has said. Roughly 4.7 million people, largely in areas surrounding the factory, were tested as of Sunday, bringing the case count to 280.
A coronavirus cluster of 12 cases also was detected in the Shandong Province city of Qingdao in October. The surrounding area was locked down, and Qingdao's entire population of about 10.7 million was given a PCR test the following day. All reportedly tested negative.
In response to the Xinjiang and Qingdao clusters, all individuals traveling from those areas to Shanghai or Beijing were quickly required to quarantine and take a PCR test. The city of Guangzhou last month also tested roughly 150,000 residents near new patients.
International travelers face new restrictions as well. Starting in November, individuals entering China from the U.S., Germany, Italy and certain other countries must provide a negative result from a PCR test taken within 48 hours of their departure. Others, like those from Japan, have a 72-hour window.
Travelers from areas with many coronavirus cases also must quarantine at a designated hotel or at home for 14 days and retake the PCR test. Arrivals to Shanghai take three tests in total after landing. Dozens of new cases are detected daily among international arrivals, and that number is continuing to rise.
Over 600 million people traveled within China during the country's Golden Week holidays in early October. Though authorities ordered tourist attractions, cinemas and other popular spots to operate at 75% capacity, many of them ended up packed.
But "authorities have gotten tougher since the cluster in Qingdao and other developments," an event organizer in Shanghai said. Corporate events and other big gatherings in the city began requiring PCR testing from attendees in October.