Mainland On Sunday, China reported 1,807 new local symptomatic COVID-19 cases, the highest daily figure in two years and more than triple the previous day’s caseload, as rising infections in a northeastern province strain health resources.
The number of domestically transmitted cases with confirmed symptoms reported for Saturday increased from 476 the day before, according to National Health Commission data released on Sunday. The daily count included 114 people who were initially classified as asymptomatic but developed symptoms later.
China’s case count is far lower than that of many other countries, but the rising number may complicate Beijing’s “dynamic-clearance” aim of comprising contagion as quickly as possible.
The surge prompted health officials to allow the public to buy rapid self-test kits for the first time to aid in the detection of infections, as some experts said China’s previous strategy based on nucleic acid tests – requiring medical workers to take samples – had become more difficult with the fast-spreading Omicron variant.
On Saturday, the northeastern province of Jilin reported 1,412 new local symptomatic cases, accounting for 78 percent of the national total and an increase from 134 the day before.
The increase “showed that some local areas, facing a rapid rise of the epidemic, lacked the capacity to expand medical resources, resulting in limited admission of infections to centralized facilities within a short period of time,” a Jilin provincial official told a news briefing.
According to local officials and state media reports, authorities in Changchun, the provincial capital that is already under lockdown, have been conducting mass testing and working on transforming an exhibition center into a temporary hospital with 1,500 beds.
According to Reuters Shenzhen, China’s southern tech hub reported 60 new local cases with confirmed symptoms on Saturday, the city’s highest number of cases since China contained the first outbreak in early 2020.
Shenzhen will suspend public transportation, including buses and subways, beginning Monday, and residents have been advised not to leave the city unless absolutely necessary as the city conducts three rounds of mass testing, according to a statement from the authorities.
All nine districts in Shenzhen have suspended restaurant dining, closed indoor entertainment venues, and demanded that companies have employees work from home this Monday through Friday if remote working is possible, with exceptions for those in critical sectors.
Six officials from the local government or the Communist Party in the southern city of Dongguan have been removed from their jobs for having failed to do a great job in COVID prevention and control, according to state media on Sunday.
The China Development Forum, a high-level business gathering in Beijing scheduled for March 19 to 22, has been postponed indefinitely due to the COVID situation, according to the organizer.
According to NHC data, the number of new locally transmitted asymptomatic cases, which China does not classify as confirmed cases, increased to 1,315 on Saturday from 1,048 the day before, marking the fourth consecutive day of increases.
There were no new deaths, bringing the total to 4,636. As of March 12, mainland China had reported 115,466 cases with confirmed symptoms, including both domestic & global cases.
(Reporting by Kevin Yao and Roxanne Liu; Editing by William Mallard, Gerry Doyle, and Susan Fenton)