China has recorded the biggest daily jump in COVID-19 cases in more than five months, despite four cities in lockdown, increased testing and other measures aimed at preventing another wave of infections in the world’s second-biggest economy.
Most of the new infections were reported near the capital, Beijing, but a province in northeast China also saw a rise in new cases, official data showed yesterday, amid a resurgence that has seen more than 28 million people under home quarantine.
The Chinese National Health Commission said in a statement that a total of 115 new confirmed cases were reported in the country, compared with 55 a day earlier. It was the highest daily increase since July 30.
The commission said that 107 of the new cases were local infections. Hebei, the province that surrounds Beijing, accounted for 90 of the cases, while the northeastern province of Heilongjiang reported 16 new cases.
The spike in new cases comes as a WHO team of investigators probing the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic are today set to arrive in Wuhan, where the disease first emerged in late 2019.
Much remains unknown about the origins of the virus, and China has been sensitive about suspicion of a cover-up that delayed its initial response and allowed COVID-19 to spread.
A health expert affiliated with the WHO said previously that expectations should be “very low” that the team would reach a conclusion from its trip to China.
Hebei has put three cities — Shijiazhuang, Xingtai and Langfang — into lockdown as part of the efforts to keep the virus from spreading further, while local authorities in Beijing have stepped up screening and prevention measures to prevent another cluster from developing there.
Heilongjiang yesterday declared a COVID-19 emergency. The city of Suihua, which borders the provincial capital, Harbin, put its 5.2 million people under lockdown.
Most of the cases in Heilongjiang have been found in Wangkui County, under Suihua’s jurisdiction, which had already been put into a lockdown earlier this week.
Tieli, a city of about 300,000 people that borders Suihua, yesterday said that it would not allow any people or vehicles to leave for three days as part of new COVID-19 prevention measures.
China’s state planning agency has said that it expects travel during next month’s Lunar New Year holiday to be markedly lower than normal, with a bigger share of people traveling in private vehicles rather than other forms of transportation.
Many provinces have asked migrant workers to refrain from traveling during the holiday.
The number of new asymptomatic cases, which China does not classify as confirmed cases, fell to 38 from 81 cases a day earlier. Seven of those were reported in Jilin, another northeastern province that borders Heilongjiang, underscoring the risk of transmission into differenet parts of the country.
The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in mainland China stood at 87,706, while the death toll remained unchanged at 4,634.
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