Authorities in Wuhan are set to test its entire population for Covid-19 after the Chinese city where the coronavirus first emerged reported its first infections in more than a year.
China is battling its largest coronavirus outbreak in months, confining residents of numerous cities to their homes, cutting transport links and rolling out mass testing as the fast-spreading delta variant challenges its zero-Covid strategy and homegrown vaccines.
Beijing had previously boasted of its success in crushing the virus, allowing the economy to rebound and normal life to return while swathes of the globe have struggled with the pandemic that has killed more than four million people.
But the latest outbreak is threatening China's success, with more than 400 domestic cases reported since mid-July when a cluster among airport cleaners in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, sparked infections in over 20 cities across more than a dozen provinces.
Wuhan, a city of 11 million, is "swiftly launching comprehensive nucleic acid testing of all residents", senior city official Li Tao said on Tuesday.
Authorities announced on Monday that seven locally transmitted infections had been found among migrant workers in the city, breaking a year-long streak without domestic cases after Wuhan squashed an initial outbreak with an unprecedented lockdown in early 2020.
Photos from Wuhan on Monday showed supermarket shelves stripped bare by shoppers apparently stocking up in preparation of being locked back down, in scenes reminiscent of the panic buying before the city was cut off from the rest of the world for 76 days last year in the first lockdown.
Officials took to social media on Tuesday pledging to "calm the panicked mood of city residents", announcing that stores had promised to keep prices and supply chains stable.
Mao, a 27-year-old Wuhan resident, said he was "not worried" about the new outbreak as "Wuhan has accumulated rich experience", including widespread vaccination.
"I'm not concerned at all that the city will be locked down again," he said.
The holiday destination of Zhangjiajie, in central China's Hunan province, also announced on Tuesday that no one would be allowed to exit the city after closing tourist attractions and encouraging visitors to leave last week.
"All residents, tourists and other personnel are forbidden to leave Zhangjiajie," a brief notice published in the city's newspaper Zhangjiajie Daily stated.
Meanwhile, Beijing has blocked tourists from entering the capital during the peak summer holiday travel season and asked residents not to leave unless necessary, with top officials vowing over the weekend to "spare no expense" in defending the city.
Major cities including Beijing have now tested millions of residents while cordoning off residential compounds and placing close contacts under quarantine.
China reported 61 domestic cases on Tuesday.