China is facing highest number of coronavirus cases since the pandemic started.
Dozens of cases have been linked to a Covid-19 testing site in Yangzhou city
China’s coronavirus cases hit a seven-month high on Tuesday, after a cluster at a test site helped drive up numbers as the Delta variant challenges Beijing’s grip on the pandemic.
State media has described the current outbreak – which has sparked local lockdowns, mass testing and travel restrictions – as the most severe since the virus emerged in the central city of Wuhan.
Authorities had brought domestic infections down to virtually zero, allowing economic activity to rebound albeit with tight border restrictions.
But now, in the country which has prided itself on its zero-tolerance approach to Covid, cases are rising.
On Tuesday, Chinese health authorities reported 143 new coronavirus infections – 108 of them locally transmitted.
On Tuesday, Chinese health authorities reported 143 new coronavirus infections – 108 of them locally transmitted
Dozens of cases in recent days have been linked to a Covid-19 testing site in eastern Yangzhou city.
While the number of cases is relatively small they are spread out across the country, prompting state media to compare it to the initial outbreak in Wuhan in 2019.
In a sign of the anxiety over even relatively minor outbreaks, several officials have been issued warnings for mishandling mass testing, which city authorities said allowed the virus to spread.
Yangzhou city authorities said ‘a small number of party members and cadres have yet to perform their duties properly’.
The city of about 4.6 million people has so far conducted five rounds of widespread testing, collecting 1.6 million samples in an attempt to stamp out the spread.
The latest surge started after infections among airport cleaners in neighbouring Nanjing city sparked a chain of cases across the country.
The workers had cleaned a plane that arrived from Russia before testing positive.
The highly contagious delta variant spread among Nanjing airport workers and has since spread from tropical Hainan province in the south to Inner Mongolia in the far north.
While the number of total cases in the outbreak hovers around 1,500, a small number relative to those occurring in other countries, Chinese authorities have renewed travel restrictions, locked down communities and sealed off the entire city of Zhangjiajie, with a population of 1.5 million.
Tuesday’s numbers are the highest since January, when the country logged 144 new cases and 126 domestic infections, mostly in the northern regions.
Authorities are now working to shore up confidence that the latest resurgence is controllable.
‘We have successfully contained the epidemic in Guangzhou, and the epidemic in Nanjing is gradually being put under control,’ the official Xinhua news agency cited infectious diseases specialist Zhang Wenhong as saying.