China reports 115 new coronavirus cases, biggest increase in five months

Cheryl Sanders
January 13, 2021

The number of new cases in mainland China reported on Tuesday nearly halved from a day earlier and remained a small fraction of what it saw at the height of the outbreak in early 2020.

Chinese health experts warned that the coronavirus spreading in China appears to be more infectious and transmissible, and asymptomatic infections, especially silent infections in villages, have become a new and big challenge for China, judging from the ongoing Shijiazhuang outbreak, reported Global Times.

Langfang, southeast of Beijing, said its 4.9 million residents would be put under home quarantine for seven days and would be subject to mass COVID-19 testing.

The city of Suihua, which borders the provincial capital Harbin, put its 5.2 million people under lockdown.

China had locked down two cities, Shijiazhuang and Xingtai, as new cases erupted in the northern Chinese region surrounding the capital city Beijing, raising worries about a fresh wave of cases in a nation that had mostly contained the disease.

The curbs come ahead of February's Lunar New Year, when hundreds of millions criss-cross China to visit family and friends, and authorities are anxious to contain the spread of the virus before the massive annual migration. The province has shut sections of highway and is ordering vehicles to turn back.

"More than 20k people in 12 villages in Zengcun county of Gaocheng district in N China's Shijiazhuang have been transferred to designated quarantine areas for medical observation since Monday". Beijing also reported four asymptomatic cases. Guan reported one new COVID-19 case but Sanhe did not say whether any of its residents were diagnosed with the disease.

At a village in the south of Beijing that shares a border with Hebei, residents were stopping vehicles and asking to see health-tracking codes on mobile phones.

'Measures have tightened since January 8, ' said a volunteer security officer surnamed Wang.

At a highway checkpoint near Beijing's border with Hebei, police in protective gowns ordered a vehicle entering Beijing to return to Hebei after the driver was unable to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test.

Heilongjiang province reported 36 new asymptomatic cases in Wangkui county, which also went into lockdown on Monday. China does not classify asymptomatic cases as confirmed COVID-19 infections. Yichun city in Heilongjiang province on Tuesday reported one new asymptomatic case linked to Wangkui, as well. Seven of those were reported in Jilin, another northeastern provicne that borders Heilongjiang, underscoring the risk of transmission into different parts of the country. Shijiazhuang has begun the second round of citywide nucleic acid testing.

A steady trickle of new coronavirus cases has surfaced in China's northern provinces since October, prompting strict restrictions despite the number of infections being small compared to outbreaks in many other countries.

Jinzhong reported on Monday two asymptomatic patients who had returned from Hebei.

Hebei, now the hardest-hit Chinese province with the most local COVID-19 patients this winter, reported 40 new confirmed cases on Tuesday.

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