The government in Guangzhou, one of many cities in China that are struggling to reduce the spread of COVID-19, is allowing people who live and work in high-risk areas of the city to return to their hometowns after completing precautionary steps, according to a local official.
The voluntary process set up by the government aims to reduce the population density in areas hardest hit by COVID-19 in order to cut its transmission.
A group of people living in the Datang area of Haizhu, the Guangzhou district hardest hit in the current outbreak, were bused to their home province of Hubei on Sunday, according to Su Mingqing, deputy district head of Haizhu.
Local authorities have established a coordinated plan with six business chambers in Hubei and eight from Jiangxi province to organize return trips for people locked down in high-risk areas, according to Su.
"They will leave for home by taking chartered buses and high-speed trains in a closed loop," Su said at a news conference on Monday afternoon.
As of Monday, 1,555 people in Haizhu had been transferred back home or to other places, according to Su.
The return trips for people stuck in high-risk areas are underway and based on people's free will and building epidemic-free communities.
At a news conference on Sunday, Zhang Yi, deputy director and spokeswoman for the Guangzhou Health Commission, said nearly 10,000 people stuck in areas such as Kanglu in Haizhu district, have registered their desire to be transferred.
People who live in buildings that have had no cases for more than three consecutive days can register their desire to leave, according to Zhang.
Those registered will be put into a three-day centralized medical observation and can leave for home after three negative nucleic acid test results taken from three consecutive days.
Earlier on Saturday, the first group of 498 students from Sun Yat-sen University, which is very close to the high-risk area of Kanglu, were organized to leave for home, according to sources with the university.
Production at some local companies will resume in areas without high risks in Haizhu in an orderly manner, under closed-loop management, according to Su.
On Sunday, there were 199 new locally transmitted confirmed cases and 7,166 asymptomatic carriers, of which 94 were found at the community level, according to the local health commission.
Optimized prevention and control measures were announced on Sunday evening in Haizhu, with such measures extended to Dec 2 in relatively smaller areas of the district, according to a notice issued by the local government.
Under the measures, public transportation, production, catering and other service businesses have been shuttered in closed-loop management areas.