China reports drop in new COVID-19 cases, but new curbs continue
China reported a drop in the number of new COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours amid a flurry of new measures in Hebei province surrounding Beijing, ranging from home quarantines starting on Tuesday in one county and a lockdown of the provincial capital. The National Health Commission said in a statement on Tuesday that a total of 55 new COVID-19 cases were reported, down from 103 a day earlier.Reuters | Updated: 12-01-2021 07:33 IST | Created: 12-01-2021 07:33 IST
China reported a drop in the number of new COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours amid a flurry of new measures in Hebei province surrounding Beijing, ranging from home quarantines starting on Tuesday in one county and a lockdown of the provincial capital.
The National Health Commission said in a statement on Tuesday that a total of 55 new COVID-19 cases were reported, down from 103 a day earlier. Hebei accounted for 40 of the 42 local infections, with Beijing and northeastern Heilongjiang province reporting one local case each. The daily case tallies remain a small fraction of what China saw at the height of the outbreak in early 2020, but local authorities are implmenting strict curbs whenever new cases emerge in order to prevent a second national wave.
Hebei's capital Shijiazhuang, a city of 11 million that accounted for 39 of the new COVID-19 cases, has been hardest hit in the latest surge in infections and has been placed under lockdown. The province has shut off certain sections of highways and is ordering vehicles registered to Shijiazhuang to turn back. Guan county in Hebei announced that it would implement home quarantine measures between Jan. 12-18, state television reported on Tuesday, citing a statement from the county.
The measures apply to all urban and rural residents of the county, with exceptions including party and government staff engaged in epidemic control work, and businesses such as supermarkets and markets providing life necessities. State TV did not say how many COVID cases were reported in the county, but authorities in Beijing's Xicheng district said on Tuesday that a Guan county resident who works at a building in the district has been diagonosed with COVID-19.
Other provinces in China are reporting new confirmed or asymptomatic cases, as well. Northeastern Heilongjiang province repoted 36 new asymptomatic cases in Wangkui county, which already went into a lockdown on Monday after reporting asymptomatic cases. Authorities do not classify asymptomatic cases as confirmed COVID-19 infections.
Underscoring the risk of the virus spreading, the city of Changchun - the capital of northeastern Jilin province - reported on Monday four new asymptomatic patients who had travelled to the city from Wangkui recently. Residential compounds that these patients lived in were put into lockdown, meaning people and vehicles are not allowed to leave the premises. And Wuhan, where COVID-19 first emerged in late 2019, on Monday launched contact tracing work because two confirmed COVID-19 patients reported in Hebei province had been to the city. A restaurant, a business building and three markets visited by one of these individuals were shut as preventative measures.
The number of new asymptomatic cases rose to 81 in the mainland from 76 a day earlier. The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases reported in mainland China now stands at 87,591, while the death toll remained unchanged at 4,634.
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