Travelers, food imports cause of recent outbreak
China’s recent COVID-19 outbreaks in the northeast have come from travelers entering the country or contaminated frozen food imports, the National Health Commission said on Saturday.
NHC Minister Ma Xiaowei made the comments at a government meeting, where he said the virus was spreading to rural areas and that the handling of the recent situation had exposed how prevention and control measures had been relaxed.
“Since December 2020, epidemic clusters have occurred in Beijing, Sichuan, Liaoning, Hebei and Heilongjiang,” a statement posted on the NHC’s website said citing the briefing by Ma.
“They mainly have the following characteristics. Firstly, they are all imported from abroad, caused by travelers from overseas, or contaminated cold-chain imported items.”
Total case numbers remain well below what China saw at the height of the outbreak in early 2020, but concerns about a new wave are growing with the Lunar New Year a month away.
About 28 million people have been put under lockdown so far as a result, and Ma said the latest outbreak had quickly spread widely due to activities such as wedding banquets or large group gatherings, and that it was difficult to control as community transmission had already occurred when cases were discovered.
The country has in the past week seen the number of daily cases jump to an over 10-month high. On Saturday, it reported 109 new coronavirus cases in the mainland, versus 130 cases a day earlier.
Of those cases, 96 were local infections, 72 of which were in Hebei Province surrounding Beijing that has been hit hardest in the latest wave. Another 12 cases were found in northeastern Heilongjiang Province while 10 in Jilin Province and two in Beijing.
A total of 102 COVID-19 infections in northeast Jilin were transmitted by an asymptomatic case imported from the neighboring Heilongjiang Province, it was announced on Sunday.
The case, surnamed Lin, carried out four marketing activities for middle-aged people and the elderly at wellness clubs in Gongzhuling and Tonghua in the province from January 6 to January 11. Lin’s close contacts’ average age is 63 years old, and the oldest is 87 years old.
Authorities have carried out a joint investigation into the health clubs to determine if their operations or products violate any regulations.
Meanwhile, a testing institution in Longyao County, Xingtai City, north China’s Hebei Province, concealed positive COVID-19 test results when reporting to local health authorities on January 14, local authorities said on Sunday. Instead, the institution said all samples taken during the second round of citywide nucleic acid testing were negative.
Two confirmed cases and one asymptomatic infection have been reported in the county as of 2pm Sunday, the authorities said, adding that all close contacts of newly confirmed cases have been quarantined for medical observation.
Longyao will launch the third round of nucleic acid testing on Monday. The authorities have taken criminal compulsory measures against the representatives of the testing institution.
Beijing will begin requiring travelers from abroad to undergo health monitoring for seven additional days following 21 days of medical observation.