BEIJING (AFP) – A city in northern China is offering bonuses worth 500 yuan ($ 77) to anyone who reports a resident who has not recently had a coronavirus test.
The offer by the Nangong government comes as millions of people are being tested in the city and surrounding Hebei Province as part of efforts to control the most serious outbreak of COVID-19 in China.
Offering cash or other rewards for information about the politically or socially uncommitted has a long history in China, but the pandemic is putting a new face on the practice. Those found to be non-compliance will be required to undergo testing and quarantine for two weeks at their own expense.
China has largely controlled domestic transport through the use of measures considered by some to be too extreme and intrusive, including locking down entire cities and close electronic monitoring to ban travel to and from parts of the country.
With the travel rush approaching in the Lunar New Year next month, the government is asking people to stay where possible as much as possible and not to travel to or from the capital, Beijing, which disrupts the most important time in the country for family gatherings. Schools have also been allowed out a week in advance, although many, including those in Hebei, have already returned to online learning.
On Friday, China reported 53 new cases, including 33 in Hebei. Of these, 31 were in the provincial capital Shijiazhuang, where it hosted some events at the Winter Olympics next year.
On other developments in the Asia-Pacific region:
Thailand has reported 205 new cases of the virus, down slightly from previous days, as it tightened controls on domestic travel. A spokeswoman for the COVID-19 Coordination Center, Taweesilp Visanuyothin, said Friday that 131 of the new cases were domestic transfers, 58 migrant workers and 16 international arrivals. This brings the total death toll in the country to 9,841, including 67 deaths. Of this total, 5,367 cases have been found since the new surge began on December 15. Cases have increased after months, with only a small number of cases being seen. Most of the new cases are migrant workers from neighboring Myanmar who work in seafood markets and factories in a province bordering Bangkok. Most of them were isolated in their dormitories and in rapidly established field hospitals. Many of the remaining cases were blamed on street gamblers, most of them stemming from a single hotspot outside Bangkok last month.
Australia is working to nearly halve the number of passengers allowed to fly by plane in an attempt to prevent the spread of a highly contagious type of Coronavirus that was first identified in Britain. A sanitation worker at a Brisbane Quarantine Hotel who was diagnosed with COVID-19 on Wednesday is the first person to have contracted the variant found in the Australian community. Other cases have been detected among travelers while in hotel quarantine, as there is little risk of community spreading. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said state leaders have agreed to halve the number of international arrivals at airports in New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia by February 15. The number of arrivals to Victoria was already relatively low and will remain unchanged. Quarantine workers will be tested for the virus daily. Authorities in Brisbane, Australia’s third-most populous city, are locked down for three days starting Friday evening to contain the spread. Australia’s chief health official Paul Kelly said anyone who has been in Brisbane since January 2 should also be isolated.
Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong received a vaccine against the Corona virus on Friday as the island nation began vaccinating its young population. It received its first vaccines, made by Pfizer-BioNTech, on December 23 and hopes to cover all of its 4.5 million residents and foreign residents. The vaccine will be free. She did not say how much she bought it, but she hopes everyone will be vaccinated by the third quarter of 2021. Health workers and the elderly will be among the first to receive the vaccine.