China’s COVID-19 cases soar in over 10 months; WHO team visits
BEIJING (CHINA) – China reported its biggest jump in COVID-19 cases in more than 10 months. Infections in northeastern Heilongjiang province have nearly tripled, highlighting the growing threat ahead of a major national holiday, during when hundreds of millions of people frequent usually.
Aggressive containment measures including lockdowns, travel curbs and mass screenings have helped China bring cases down to an extent and to a considerable number from what it witnessed in early 2020.
The National Health Commission (NHC) said in a statement that 138 new COVID-19 cases were reported on January 13, and marking the highest jump since March 5. China also recorded one new death, the first increase in the death toll since mid-May.
Hebei accounted for 81 of the 124 local infections, while Heilongjiang reported 43 such cases a day after it declared a state of emergency. More than 28 million people are already in lockdown as the two provinces try to curb the spread of the coronavirus. The exact origin of this new outbreak is unclear.
The new wave of infections comes ahead of next month’s Lunar New Year holiday, when millions of people typically travel to their home towns. COVID-19’s resurgence has already prompted some provinces to discourage travel, which could lead to reduced travel and dampen consumption during the long break.
Heilongjiang’s health authority on Thursday encouraged 37.5 million residents to spend the upcoming Lunar New Year holidays in the province and keep themselves away from unnecessary travel.
NHC official Tong Zhaohui told state television explaining the need for such centralised quarantine, “A village may have dozens or even hundreds of households.”
“People in the village can still communicate with each other if you just sealed the entrance of the village,” Tong added. “So we must find a suitable place for centralised quarantine. This also aims to avoid more infections.”