Suzhou, a Chinese industrial hub located 49 miles west of Shanghai, shut down 15 of its highway entrances on Tuesday as city officials scrambled to contain a local Chinese coronavirus epidemic.
“On Tuesday it [Suzhou] closed 15 highway entrances and required drivers and passengers leaving through others to have proof of negative test results within 48 hours,” Reuters reported on February 15.
Suzhou began restricting travel out of the city on Monday when local Chinese Communist Party officials forbade all of Suzhou’s residents from leaving the community for nonessential reasons. The decision came after health authorities allegedly detected just eight new Chinese coronavirus cases among Suzhou’s population of 10.72 million.
“Suzhou residents are required to stay home, avoid gathering and wear masks. They are asked to avoid leaving the city unless it is absolutely necessary,” Shine, Shanghai Daily‘s online news platform, reported on February 14.
Officials in charge of Shanghai’s Metro Line 11, which links the metropolis of nearly 25 million to Suzhou, halted some of the rail line’s service on February 14. The metro suspension extended to all bus and subway lines connecting Shanghai to Suzhou and remains in place indefinitely.
Suzhou, like Shanghai, serves as a vital tech industry center for China. The city hosts roughly 100,000 multinational companies and manufacturing plants in its Industrial Park. Foreign firms such as Samsung (a South Korean electronics giant), United Microelectronics Corporation (a Taiwanese semiconductor company), Eli Lilly (a U.S.-based pharmaceutical company), and Bosch (a German multinational engineering and tech company) maintain factories in Suzhou.
“We expect a short-term impact on our manufacturing and logistics operations in Suzhou,” Bosch said in a statement to Reuters on February 14. A company spokesman further revealed “local office staffers were working from home.”
Taiwan’s United Microelectronics Corporation said on February 14 its “8-inch wafer fabrication subsidiary in Suzhou had temporarily suspended production because of a suspected COVID [Chinese coronavirus] infection,” according to Reuters.
Suzhou health officials claimed they detected just 12 new Chinese coronavirus infections in the city on February 14, according to a report by China’s National Health Commission (NHC) on February 15. The NHC said it recorded eight symptomatic and four asymptomatic coronavirus cases in Suzhou on Monday.
Suzhou’s government on February 13 suspended some medical services in the city — including outpatient and emergency medical services at several hospitals — as part of Suzhou’s lockdown. Communist Party officials closed all kindergartens, primary schools, and middle schools in Suzhou on February 14 to support the emergency health measure.
“[Suzhou] Schools will delay their new semesters, while all training institutes have been closed,” Shine reported on February 14.