SHANGHAI/BEIJING (CHINA) – As new infections continue to rise in Hebei province surrounding Beijing, the National Health Commission (NHC) said Mainland China saw its biggest daily increase in COVID-19 cases in over five months.
Reports suggests that a county in northeastern Heilongjiang province moved into lockdown after reporting new coronavirus infections, on Monday.
Hebei accounted for 82 of the 85 new local infections reported on Jan. 10, the NHC said in a statement. Liaoning province also reported two new cases along with one new case from Beijing. The country also saw 18 new imported infections from overseas.
The total number of new COVID-19 cases stood at 103, the highest since 127 cases were reported on July 30.
Though the number of recent case remains a small fraction of what the country saw at the peak of the outbreak in early 2020, authorities are taking aggressive steps to curb its spread to avoid another COVID wave.
The surge comes as the World Health Organization’s team of investigators probing the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic are set to arrive in China on Thursday.
The current wave of local cases first erupted in the port city of Dalian in Liaoning in mid-December. As winter advanced, other northern provinces – Heilongjiang, Hebei and Jilin – started to report more infections.
Dalian on Monday blamed its outbreak on contaminated foreign vessels, saying the gene-sequencing information of the virus was different from that in previous outbreaks.
Most of the infected were dock workers handling cargoes from one ship from Russia, a Dalian official told reporters.
Shijiazhuang which is the capital of Hebei’s and the new epicentre of the latest outbreak, is in lockdown. People and vehicles are being barred from leaving Shijiazhuang, while public transport in the city has also been halted.
Hebei said on Monday that several sections of highways in the province have been shutdown, and vehicles registered to Shijiazhuang and Xingtai will be asked to return back. The latter city has also reported COVID-19 cases in recent days.
Shijiazhuang accounted for 77 of the 82 new COVID-19 cases and all of the 49 new asymptomatic cases reported in Hebei province on Jan. 10.
Wangkui county, under the jurisdiction of Suihua city in Heilongjiang, reported eight new asymptomatic cases and on Monday closed all non-essential businesses, banned people from leaving the city and blocked all non-essential traffic, state television also reported.
Changchun, capital of Jilin, reported four new asymptomatic cases on Monday – the province’s first local infections since July 26. The infected persons had all travelled from Wangkui county recently via train, Jilin health authorities said.
The residential compounds of the infected were under lockdown, with people and vehicles not allowed to leave the premises, the Changchun health authority said.
Mainland China’s total number of infections to date now stands at 87,536, while the death toll is unchanged at 4,634.