On Oct. 26, officials imposed movement and gathering restrictions in Kashgar Prefecture following the recent confirmation of at least 163 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in Shufu County. Residents of housing complexes where cases have been confirmed have been temporarily banned from leaving their buildings. Schools throughout Kashgar Prefecture are to remain closed through at least Oct. 30. Additional business, gathering, and transport restrictions may be imposed in Kashgar in the coming days. Restrictions could be expanded to other areas of Xinjiang if more cases are discovered. Chinese officials plan to conduct COVID-19 tests on all residents of Kashgar Prefecture. Additional security and emergency response personnel have deployed to the area to enforce localized restrictions and conduct health screenings.
Governments of multiple Chinese provinces and municipalities have called for individuals to postpone nonessential travel to Kashgar. They require individuals with recent travel history in the prefecture to undergo COVID-19 testing. Officials have designated parts of Shufu County as a high-risk area. People traveling from Kashgar are likely to face increased health screenings and possible quarantine requirements. Controls on long-distance transportation services between Kashgar and other areas of China may be imposed at short notice.
Background and Analysis
Following the initial outbreak in Wuhan, Chinese authorities have been extremely proactive in introducing localized gathering and transport controls in response to COVID-19 cases. Restrictions were imposed in Beijing from mid-June after several dozen cases were discovered in the city. Controls in Beijing gradually began to ease in subsequent weeks as authorities conducted mass testing to identify and isolate new cases. Similar patterns of tight, localized controls being imposed and then gradually eased have occurred in other Chinese cities in recent months.
Follow all official instructions. Remain polite and nonconfrontational if questioned by security personnel. Confirm travel reservations in Kashgar and nearby areas of Xinjiang. Consider deferring nonessential travel to the area as a precaution until restrictions are lifted.
Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.