BEIJING, Aug.9 (Reuters) – China reported more COVID-19 infections on Monday in its latest outbreak of the disease, while some cities have added rounds of mass tests in a bid to eradicate the infections transmitted locally.
The highly infectious Delta variant has been detected in more than a dozen cities since July 20, and authorities have ordered local governments to closely monitor infections and fill gaps in control efforts.
“A lax mind must be firmly overcome,” said the National Health Commission (NHC) on Sunday, calling for curbing the epidemic.
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China should not give up tight controls as it uses targeted containment and broad vaccination to defeat the virus, former health minister Gao Qiang said.
“As long as the virus is still spread around the world, China’s policy of strictly preventing the importation of the virus will not be changed,” Gao wrote in the state-backed People’s Daily.
China would stick to its strategy of severing chains of transmission in an effort to find and control the virus as quickly as possible, Gao added.
In a demonstration of action against local governments deemed negligent in control efforts, China dismissed some officials in the cities of Nanjing, Yantai, Zhengzhou and Zhangjiajie.
The eastern city of Yangzhou, which is battling a major cluster, has urged its officials to do better after an infected visitor to a testing center spread the virus to others.
Sunday’s 125 new confirmed infections, including 94 locally transmitted cases, were up from the previous day’s 96 figure, with 81 transmitted locally, while the rest were imported from overseas, the NHC said on Monday.
Most of the local Sunday patients were in the central cities of Zhengzhou and Yangzhou.
Yangzhou has started a fifth round of mass testing, city officials said on Monday, the day Zhengzhou is expected to finish collecting samples for its third round of city-wide testing.
The eastern city of Nanjing, hit hard in the July outbreak, has started a third round of targeted testing in some areas after three rounds across the city, despite fewer than five local cases daily since August 2.
Nantong City, near Yangzhou and Nanjing, has not yet reported a new local case since late July, but has also started mass testing as a preparatory exercise.
The central city of Wuhan, where the COVID-19 outbreak first appeared in late 2019, reported two confirmed local cases on Sunday, the lowest daily figure since its first local infections in the Delta on August 2.
City-wide tests started in Wuhan last week showed no large-scale spread of the latest cluster, a doctor at the city’s Tongji Hospital said on Sunday.
Yet at least two long-distance shuttle centers in Wuhan halted all services from Monday, widening the suspension of some routes last week.
New asymptomatic infections in China stood at 39, up from 30 a day earlier. China does not classify them as confirmed cases.
The number of infections in China stands at 93,826 since the start of the epidemic, while deaths have remained at 4,636.
(This story is passed on to correct a typo in the fifth paragraph to Gao Qiang rather than Gap Qiang)
Reporting by Gabriel Crossley and Roxanne Liu; Editing by Kim Coghill and Clarence Fernandez
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