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China's COVID-19 outbreak developing rapidly, health official says

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By Reuters
China's COVID-19 outbreak developing rapidly, health official says
China's COVID-19 outbreak developing rapidly, health official says   -   Copyright  Thomson Reuters 2021   -  

<div> <p><span class="caps">SHANGHAI</span> -China’s latest <span class="caps">COVID</span>-19 outbreak is developing rapidly, a health official said, as the authorities demanded high vigilance at ports of entry amid growing infections in a northeastern border city caused by the virus arriving from abroad. </p> <p>Some 377 domestically transmitted cases with confirmed symptoms were reported from Oct. 17-29, National Health Commission (<span class="caps">NHC</span>) data showed. China has tackled a series of outbreaks this year since it largely contained a national spread in early 2020.</p> <p>The numbers remain tiny compared with clusters outside the country. However, while the rest of the world works out how to co-exist with <span class="caps">COVID</span>, China has maintained its zero tolerance, urging vigilance around border areas and ports to prevent infected inbound travellers spreading the virus to locals. </p> <p>“Within the past 14 days, 14 provincial areas have reported new locally transmitted cases or asymptomatic carriers,” the <span class="caps">NHC</span> spokesperson Mi Feng said on Saturday.</p> <p>“The outbreak is still developing rapidly, and the virus control situation is severe and complicated.”</p> <p>Heihe, a small northeastern city of 1.3 million people that lies on China’s side of the Amur river on the border with Russia, reported 26 local cases for Oct. 29, a sharp increase from nine on Oct. 28 and just one on Oct. 27.</p> <p>“The outbreak has exposed the laxity of mind among some local authorities,” Wu Liangyou, another <span class="caps">NHC</span> official, said. </p> <p>China, especially ports of entry, should strengthen test screening of people of high infection risk and improve monitoring of potential flare-ups, as the virus is still spreading in surrounding countries, Wu told a news briefing. </p> <p>Surveys and virus sequencing results showed the cluster in Heihe was unrelated to an ongoing outbreak hitting mainly the northwestern parts of China, indicating that there was a new source of virus brought from overseas, Wu said. </p> <p>Many local infections found in the north and northwest parts of China since Oct. 17 could be traced back to a source of virus brought in from overseas, the <span class="caps">NHC</span> said last week.</p> <p>China’s border towns, many with relatively few resources, have tended to suffer more severe disruptions than richer cities amid the outbreaks. </p> <p>The small southwestern city of Ruili bordering Myanmar has seen its once robust jewellery trade business, a pillar of its modest economy, dampened by some of the toughest virus measures in China due to repeated outbreaks.</p> <p>In major cities, officials have vowed strict virus curbs for key international events to minimise the risk of imported virus. </p> <p>To safely host the Winter Olympics Games in February, Chinese athletes and staff supporting the event must receive a vaccine booster shot, while boosters are recommended for foreign athletes but not compulsory, according to a state television report.</p> <p>China is aiming to complete vaccinating children aged three to 11 by the end of December, excluding those with medical conditions that may render a <span class="caps">COVID</span>-19 shot harmful, Wu said.</p> <p>It has already fully vaccinated about 75.8% of its 1.4 billion population, and is giving eligible adults a booster shot. </p> </div>