China reports 109 new COVID-19 cases as infections persist in northeast

China | Mon, January 18, 2021 | 06:34 pm

China reported more than 100 new COVID-19 cases for the sixth consecutive day, with rising infections in the northeast fueling concerns of another national wave ahead of the country’s biggest holiday. In a statement on Monday, the National Health Commission said that a total of 109 new cases of COVID-19 were registered on Jan. 17, unchanged from the day before. In Hebei province that surrounds Beijing, 54 of the 93 local infections were registered. A record 30 new cases were registered in Northeastern Jilin province, underscoring the risk of new clusters emerging.

Daily increases remain a fraction of what the nation saw at the height of the outbreak in early 2020, but authorities are implementing an aggressive package of measures to prevent the disease from bringing the country to another painful standstill, including the lockdown of more than 29 million individuals.

On Monday, Chinese statistics bureau head Ning Jizhe said the overall effect on the country’s economy of the new COVID-19 revival remained controllable. But while the official Xinhua news agency warned in a commentary that local governments should not “cry wolf” a number of fresh curbs have been implemented by many. The official Xinhua news agency announced on Saturday that Beijing, which has reported two new local infections, will begin requiring travellers from abroad to undergo health surveillance for seven additional days after 21 days of medical observation.

A tight lockdown has also been imposed on the city of Gongzhuling in Jilin province, which has a population of about 1 million people, shutting down all but important shops. It said in a notice that it is “strictly forbidden” for anybody to go out unless a COVID-19 test at a specified location is arranged for them. An infected salesman traveling to and from the neighboring province of Heilongjiang, the location of a previous cluster of cases, is suspected to have caused the outbreak in Jilin. From 119 cases a day earlier, the number of new asymptomatic cases, which China does not recognize as reported cases, dropped to 115.

In mainland China, the total number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 is 89,336, although the death toll has remained unchanged at 4,635. The data excludes cases from Macau and Hong Kong, which are Chinese cities but separately announce new cases, and self-governing Taiwan, which China claims to be its own. Currently in China, the World Health Organization (WHO) team has already started its inquiries into the roots of the global pandemic. On Friday, WHO representatives said that they have started discussions via video conference with their Chinese counterparts as they remain in quarantine.

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