More virus cases found as cities launch new tests
China on Monday reported more COVID-19 infections in its latest outbreak of the disease, while some cities added rounds of mass testing in a bid to curb locally transmitted infections.
The highly infectious Delta variant has been detected in over a dozen cities since July 20, and officials have ordered local governments to keep close track of infections and close loopholes in control efforts.
"A laxity of mind should be firmly overcome," the National Health Commission said on Sunday, calling for the outbreak to be curbed.
Analysts see the Delta variant as the biggest test of China's zero-COVID strategy since last year's initial outbreak, but expect authorities will quash it before it gets out of hand.
China should not give up strict controls as it uses targeted containment and broad vaccination to defeat the virus, a former health minister said.
"As long as the virus is still widespread globally, China's policy to strictly prevent the import of the virus shall not be changed," Gao Qiang wrote in the People's Daily.
China would stick to its strategy of cutting transmission chains with the goal of finding and controlling the virus as soon as possible, Gao added.
In a show of action against local governments deemed negligent in control efforts, China has removed some officials in the cities of Nanjing, Yantai, Zhengzhou and Zhangjiajie.
Sunday's 125 new confirmed infections, including 94 locally transmitted cases, were up from the previous day's 96, with 81 locally transmitted, while the rest were imported from abroad, the NHC said on Monday.
Most of Sunday's local patients were in the central city of Zhengzhou and the eastern city of Yangzhou.
Yangzhou has started a fifth round of mass tests, city authorities said on Monday, the day Zhengzhou is expected to wrap up sample collection for its third round of citywide tests.
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 citywide, despite fewer than five daily local cases since August 2.
Nantong, near Yangzhou, has yet to report any new local case since late July, but has also begun mass testing.
The central city of Wuhan reported two local confirmed cases for Sunday, the lowest daily figure since its first local Delta infections on August 2.
China's tally of infections stands at 93,826 since the outbreak began last year, while deaths stayed at 4,636.