The delta variant has finally taken hold in China.
China, the original home of the coronavirus which first emerged in Wuhan in late 2019, has reported its biggest outbreak of the delta variant yet after an outbreak centered around the city of Nanjing has spread across the country. As of Friday, Chinese officials have counted 206 new cases since July 20, with most of them occurring around Nanjing, although they have spread to 13 cities in at least 5 difference provinces.
Authorities say they have traced the outbreak back to a crew of airport workers who were cleaning a plane that had just arrived from Russia.
State media reported that a couple of the workers tested positive after failing to follow rigorous hygiene guidelines. So far, 7 people infected in the latest outbreak are in critical condition, not surprising considering that delta is believed to be more virulent and infectious, causing more severe infections in younger patients.
It's the first outbreak in China since last month's outbreak in Dongguan. Officials responded to that outbreak in the usual way - by locking down part of the city and ordering mandatory testing.
Beijing has a set strategy for handling COVID cases in keeping with the "zero tolerance" approach, something China's public health authorities share with Australia, which is struggling with the economic fallout from its latest round of lockdowns. It typically involves new lockdown measures (or at least some kind of temporary restrictions on movement) while millions in the area are tested. Officials reportedly plan to test all of the 9MM+ people in Nanjing.
Nanjing is situated in China's Jiangsu province, where thousands are currently locked down. Sichuan and Liaoning provinces have also reported cases.
The latest outbreak is also raising more questions about the efficacy of China's Sinovac vaccine, which is facing criticism for its low efficacy. Several Asian countries have opted to ditch the Sinovac jab despite its favorable price.
And now that delta has finally taken hold in China, the variant will put these vaccines to the test, just like it did in the UK, Continental Europe, India and - of course, - the US.