China experiences biggest peak in COVID-19 in more than five months


China has seen the biggest daily increase in COVID-19 cases in more than five months, despite four cities on lockdown, increased testing and other measures to prevent a new wave of infections in the second largest economy in the world.

Most of the new patients have been reported near Beijing, but a province in northeast China has also seen an increase in the number of new cases, official data showed on Wednesday, amid a resurgence that has seen more of 28 million people in home quarantine.

The National Health Commission said in a statement that a total of 115 new confirmed cases had been reported on the continent, up from 55 a day earlier. This is the biggest daily increase since July 30.

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The commission said 107 of the new cases were local infections. Hebei, the province surrounding Beijing, accounted for 90 of the cases, while northeast Heilongjiang Province reported 16 new cases.

Hebei has put three cities – Shijiazhuang, Xingtai and Langfang – on lockdown as part of efforts to prevent the virus from spreading further, while Beijing city authorities have stepped up testing and prevention measures for prevent another cluster from growing there.

Heilongjiang Province declared a COVID-19 emergency on Wednesday. The city of Suihua, which borders the provincial capital Harbin, has locked up its 5.2 million inhabitants.

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Most of the cases in Heilongjiang have been found in Wangkui County, under the jurisdiction of Suihua, which had already been locked out earlier this week.

China’s national planning agency said it expects travel during the Lunar New Year period next month to be significantly lower than normal, with a greater proportion of people taking cars to the instead of other means of transport. Many provinces have asked migrant workers to refrain from traveling during the break.

The number of new asymptomatic cases, which China does not classify as confirmed cases, fell to 38 from 81 cases a day earlier. Seven of them have been reported in Jilin, another northeastern province that borders Heilongjiang, highlighting the risk of transmission in different parts of the country.

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The total number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in mainland China now stands at 87,706, while the death toll remained unchanged at 4,634.

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