Fast-Spreading, Deadly COVID-19 Variants Announced in South China

By Rita Li
Rita Li
Rita Li
Rita Li is a reporter with The Epoch Times, focusing on China-related topics. She began writing for the Chinese-language edition in 2018.
June 1, 2021 Updated: June 8, 2021

COVID-19 variant cases are spreading across Guangdong, a coastal province in South China. Municipal authorities have reported that all local transmissions have been related to the Indian and UK variants, and are spreading rapidly due to their increased transmissibility.

After recording zero confirmed local cases a day before, China’s National Health Commission on May 31 confirmed 20 new locally acquired COVID-19 across the country in the past 24 hours, all from Guangdong Province except for seven imported cases in Guangdong, Shanghai, Fujian, and Henan. Three new asymptomatic cases of locally acquired COVID-19 were also reported in the southern province, which China doesn’t classify as confirmed cases.

A confirmed case in Guangdong came from a baby girl surnamed Liang, aged only one year and a month old.

Chen Bin, deputy director at the municipal health commission of Guangzhou, the capital city of Guangdong, said at a press conference on May 30 that recent cases were of the new, fast-spreading Indian variant of the virus.

This is the first public confirmation from Chinese officials that the Indian variant has been transmitting locally in mainland China.

Recent transmission chains have been traced back through five individuals mostly located in central Guangdong Province, China’s state media reported.

On May 30, the Shahe Clothes Wholesale Plaza—one of the three biggest clothes wholesale markets in Guangzhou—was forced to shut down without warning after one customer was found showing symptoms of a fever. A video shared online shows the that panic set in after everyone at the market was told they would have to be tested for COVID-19 before they could leave.

Officials also announced the launch of broader universal testing and tougher traffic controls to curb the outbreak of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus, commonly known as novel coronavirus—the virus which causes the disease COVID-19.

According to the latest notice issued by Guangzhou’s Epidemic Prevention and Control Office, from 10 p.m. on May 31, passengers leaving Guangzhou will have to present their green Health Code and a negative COVID-19 test from within the past 72 hours.

The scope of testing has also been further expanded to Guangdong’s districts of Yuexiu, Haizhu, Tianhe, Baiyun, and Panyu, in addition to Liwan district where the first local case was reported and traced to a 75-year-old female patent surnamed Guo who dined in a local dim sum restaurant on May 21.

A member of the wait staff was asymptomatically infected and not wearing a mask while delivering food to Guo.

Local authorities announced lockdowns for certain communities in Liwan District said to be at high-risk and suspended unessential daily activities. One person per household per day is allowed to go out to buy daily necessities.

A security guard at Pui Chun Primary School in Liwan district told the Chinese-language Epoch Times that the school and its neighborhood has been shut down. They said that police were everywhere and people could not move around. Authorities did not offer any official announcement of the lockdown, he said.

Meanwhile, the UK virus variant has been officially reported in Shenzhen—China’s tech megacity in Guangdong Province. The total number of local cases have climbed to 13 since the new surge was detected in Shenzhen on May 21.

Sequencing results from patients were highly homologous to the UK mutated strain, said Chang Juping, deputy director of the municipal health commission.

The so-called B.117 variant, which peaked in the UK at beginning of this year, is up to twice as deadly as the regular variant, research shows.

Rita Li
Rita Li
Rita Li is a reporter with The Epoch Times, focusing on China-related topics. She began writing for the Chinese-language edition in 2018.