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China rushes to build a massive quarantine camp that can hold more than 4,000 people, following an outbreak of COVID-19 this month that has left tens of millions of people under strict lockdown.

The quarantine camp is located on the outskirts of Shijiazhuang, the provincial capital of Hebei Province, which surrounds the country’s capital Beijing.

China has largely contained the spread of the virus, and much of the country has returned to normal.

However, a sudden increase in cases has alarmed officials and raised concerns ahead of the Lunar New Year, the county’s most important annual festival, during which hundreds of millions of people are expected to travel to visit family members.
An aerial view of the construction site of the quarantine camp in Shijiazhuang, Hebei, China, on January 19.
An aerial view of the construction site of the quarantine camp in Shijiazhuang, Hebei, China, on January 19. (Ren Quanjun / VCG / Getty Images)

Officials in Shijiazhuang, where the outbreak is centered, have begun massive testing and strict closures, moving entire villages to centralized quarantine facilities in a bid to slow the spread of the virus.

The new quarantine camp will house close contacts of confirmed COVID-19 patients, as authorities continue an extensive contact tracing and testing program.

It was originally planned to house 3,000 people, but has since expanded to a capacity of 4,160.

More than 4,000 construction workers did “six days and six nights of work” to complete the first phase, Shijiazhuang Deputy Mayor Meng Xianghong said on Tuesday.

Workers building the quarantine center in Shijiazhuang, Hebei province, China, on January 18.
Workers building the quarantine center in Shijiazhuang, Hebei province, China, on January 18. (Yang Shiyao / Xinhua / Getty)

Authorities began construction on January 13 and the first section of the camp is now complete and ready for use, while construction continues in the second phase, according to state broadcaster CCTV.

Each pre-fab room is expected to measure 18 square meters and will feature an en-suite bathroom and shower, desks, chairs, beds, Wi-Fi and a television, according to CCTV.

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The ambitious task recalls previous efforts during the initial stages of the pandemic, during which authorities built several medical facilities from scratch, including a 1,000-bed hospital in just 10 days.

On Tuesday, China reported 103 new confirmed cases and 58 asymptomatic infections, which are counted separately, spread across four provinces. Hebei Province now has a total of 818 active locally transmitted cases and more than 200 asymptomatic infections, according to the provincial health commission.

Last Wednesday, a patient died in Hebei, the country’s first COVID-19-related death in 242 days.

A man received a swab for the coronavirus test at a hospital in Beijing on Sunday, January 17, 2021. The coronavirus was found in ice cream produced in eastern China, prompting the recall of boxes from the same batch, according to the government. (AP Photo / Andy Wong) (AP)

The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in mainland China now stands at 88,557, while the official death toll stands at 4,635.

In an effort to contain the outbreak, authorities closed Shijiazhuang on January 8, and the 11 million residents were unable to leave the city.

Since then, more than 20,000 citizens from 12 villages in Shijiangzhuang have been relocated to other quarantine sites as a preventive measure, Chinese state media CGTN reported last week.

Citizens line up for the third round of testing in Shijiazhuang on January 18.
Citizens line up for the third round of testing in Shijiazhuang on January 18. (Costfoto / Barcroft Media / Getty Images)

To date, more than 17 million people have been tested in Hebei, and authorities are conducting a second round of massive tests in Shijiazhuang and the cities of Xingtai and Langfang.

Hebei authorities are now urging residents to stay home, and officials are dispatched to urban and rural areas to enforce the measures and ensure that people do not travel through the province to Beijing.

In response to the perceived threat, Beijing authorities have stepped up testing and detection efforts after cases were confirmed in the capital’s farthest Daxing district, and announced on Wednesday that they would close two nearby subway stations until further notice. .

In the northeastern province of Jilin, 102 cases have been linked to the so-called “super spreader”, a vendor who traveled from his home province of Heilongjiang.


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