Guangzhou authorities have ordered residents of entire districts to be tested for the virus, while the nearby cities of Foshan and Shenzhen, which borders Hong Kong, have also launched mass testing after local cases were detected in the past week. Hundreds of flights out of Guangzhou's Baiyun International Airport have been cancelled.
After three years, mainland China opened sea and land crossings with Hong Kong and ended a requirement for incoming travellers to quarantine, dismantling a final pillar of a zero-COVID policy that had shielded China's 1.4b people from the virus but also cut them off from the rest of the world.
While the quarantine procedures have been lifted, Emiratis and those travelling to China through the UAE need to disclose their health status by filling out the health form on the Chinese customs cards, the UAE embassy said.
China abruptly ended a strict regime of lockdowns, quarantines and mass testing in December. On Sunday, China is also ending mandatory quarantines for people arriving from abroad.
China has been criticised for under-reporting coronavirus deaths; official says emergency hospitalisations have peaked; travel recovering ahead of Lunar New Year holiday.
The announcement Saturday was the first official death toll since the ruling Communist Party abruptly dropped anti-virus restrictions in December despite a surge in infections that flooded hospitals.
The first batch of 590,000 students in Beijing included all three years of high school, the first and third years of middle school and the first grade of primary school. Another 400,000 students are to start school on Tuesday, and the final 520,000 on Sept. 7.
The National Command and Control Centre (NCOC) also reported 591 new cases, increasing the country’s caseload to 275,836, including 6,275 deaths.
The findings indicate the disease, which has killed more than 800,000 people worldwide, may continue to spread amongst the global population despite herd immunity, they said.