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Global Times

Chinese Vice Premier urges Hebei authorities to learn lessons that religious gatherings cause virus spread amid epidemic

Global Times

By Global Times Published: Jan 19, 2021 10:19 PM

Chinese Vice Premier Sun Chunlan urged local authorities in North China's Hebei Province to implement COVID-19 prevention measures, learn lessons that religious activities caused the spread of the epidemic and suspend religious gatherings, during her visit to the virus-hit province from Friday to Monday.

The latest outbreak in Hebei has mainly occurred in rural areas that lack prevention awareness and adequate public health services, Sun was quoted as saying in a report by the Xinhua News Agency on Tuesday. And she urged local communities, counties and villages to effectively shoulder their responsibilities, timely report possible infections and enhance prevention capabilities.

Local authorities should also learn lessons that holding religious activities during the epidemic causes the spread of the virus, and should suspend religious gatherings at religious and meeting venues, she stressed.

There have been speculations that the latest outbreak in Hebei was linked to religious activities held in the virus-hit Xiaoguozhuang village in Shijiazhuang and priests from Europe and the US preached in Gaocheng district which administrates Xiaoguozhuang village.

In response to the speculations, an official in charge of religious affairs in Shijiazhuang denied that the latest outbreak in Shijiazhuang was directly linked to religious gatherings at a press conference on January 9. The local official also said the speculation that priests from Europe and the US preached in Gaocheng district is not true.

Before the outbreak, some religious believers gathered at a villager's home at Xiaoguozhuang village, which was like other gathering activities that could easily cause the spread of the epidemic, the local official said.

Shijiazhuang has temporarily closed all religious venues and suspended all religious activities after the outbreak.

Hebei reported 35 new COVID-19 patients on Monday, 13 had previously been diagnosed as asymptomatic. As of midnight Monday, the province had reported 800 COVID-19 cases, according to the local health commission.

Sun emphasized that there has been no breakthrough on the origin of the outbreak in Hebei. She also urged local authorities including the CDC, public security departments and industry and information technology bureaus to enhance capabilities of epidemiological investigation and efficiency.

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