China to test lunar new year passengers for COVID-19; Shanghai reports new cases

BEIJING (Reuters) – China plans to implement stricter COVID testing requirements during the Lunar New Year holiday season, when millions are expected to travel since March 2020, as it is the worst of new infections Is the wave.

Shanghai’s commercial center on Thursday reported its first locally transmitted cases in two months, underscoring the increased risk of the virus.

Millions of people from Beijing’s surrounding Hebei province and the northeastern provinces of Jilin and Heilongjiang have been put into lockdown in recent weeks.

Authorities have asked people to stay in their homes during the February holiday season in an effort to prevent another debilitating outbreak.

New restrictions are also being adopted by local governments in areas that have yet to face major outbreaks, including a southwestern city that prohibits the entry of foreigners into foreign countries.

A total of 144 new cases were reported on 20 January, the National Health Commission said on Thursday, with the total reported on 14 January and marking the most daily infections since 1 March. It is still a part of what China sees. However, during the height of the outbreak in January – February 2020.

Of the 126 new local infections, Heilongjiang accounted for 68, while Jilin reported 33. Hebei, which had seen the biggest spike in cases so far this month, reported 20 new cases and Beijing reported two cases.

The number of new asymptomatic cases, which China does not classify as confirmed infections, increased to 113 from 58 a day earlier.

In a notice posted online, China’s National Health Commission stated that those returning to rural areas from other provinces in the lunar new year period must produce a negative COVID-19 test within seven days.

Most of China’s 280 million rural migrant workers usually go home to their villages at this time of the year.

The notice states that those who work with imported cold chain products, or quarantine facility workers, will also have to be tested in other provinces.

The epidemic control of rural areas, as well as infection spread through imported frozen goods, has been blamed by authorities as a weak link partially responsible for the current outbreaks.

During a Wednesday news conference, an NHC official announced that everyone returning home would have to take the exam. Government media Xinhua then published an article urging officials to clarify the details “at the earliest”.

New steps

Although the latest increase in cases remains mostly in the Northeast, some authorities in parts of China have implemented aggressive measures to cut the possibility of cluster development.

The town of Ruili in southwestern Yunnan province, which is a popular tourist destination due to its warm weather, blocked entry for foreigners arriving from abroad on Wednesday.

The city will also test all Chinese citizens entering the city from medium or high-risk areas for COVID-19 and will need to quarantine for three weeks – two of which will be in centralized facilities.

Yunnan has not reported any new local infections during the current wave, but Ruili was forced to leave some residents after discovering two imported infections from Myanmar in September.

Shanghai reported three local COVID-19 cases on Thursday, the first such infection since 23 November. The city on Thursday began a collective test of all hospital personnel after “suspicious” COVID-19 test results were returned to such workers at two different facilities this week.

These individuals have not yet been officially announced as confirmed cases.

The total number of COVID-19 cases in mainland China is now 88,701, while the death toll remained unchanged at 4,635.

(Reported by Jing Wang and Brenda Goh in Shanghai, Gabriel Crossley and Roxanne Liu in Beijing; Writing by Si Young Lee; Editing by Jacqueline Wong, Gerry Doyle and Michael Perry)

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