BEIJING (China): China is keeping its guard up as its latest surge of COVID-19 cases entered its fourth week, with calls from officials to close containment loopholes unlikely to see cities easing strict virus control measures.
China reported 83 new locally transmitted cases for Aug. 10, the health authority reported, bringing the cumulative number of new infections in the past week to 583.
That was an increase of 85.1% in the total number of local cases from a week earlier. The rate is almost unchanged from the 87.5% surge seen the previous week, which officials say has been mainly driven by the highly transmissible Delta variant.
Of the new cases reported on Wednesday, 54 of them were found in the city of Yangzhou in the eastern province of Jiangsu. Yangzhou eclipsed the provincial capital, Nanjing, as the city with the most local cases since Aug. 6.
The Delta variant has been detected in more than a dozen cities since the first cases were found in Nanjing in late July, spurring officials in Beijing to tell local governments to overcome “a laxity of mind” in their containment measures and close loopholes in their virus-fighting efforts.
But China has refrained from full lockdowns of major cities such as those seen during the early days of COVID-19 outbreak in Hubei province, to avoid paralysing the economy, though some economic pain has been felt.
Residential compounds or districts deemed at greater risk have been sealed off. Cities with areas marked as medium- or high-risk have seen varying degrees of restrictions at public venues.
Flights are still allowed to depart from cities that have reported cases, expect for those leaving Nanjing, Yangzhou and Zhangjiajie. But flights and trains entering Beijing from areas where cases had been reported have been cut.
The capital, where one new locally confirmed case was reported, only allows long-distance passenger bus services with nearby Tianjin city and Hebei province.
China’s overall scheduled air capacity fell 31.9% over the last week, one of its steepest weekly drops during the pandemic, according to aviation data firm OAG.
“We do not expect to see an immediate recovery of that capacity in the coming weeks which will further depress the global recovery,” OAG said in a weekly update.
Including imported infections, China reported 111 new confirmed cases for Aug. 10, compared with 143 the previous day.
The number of new asymptomatic infections was 30 compared with 38 a day earlier. China does not classify them as confirmed cases until they show clinical signs of infection such as a fever.
China has reported a total of 94,080 infections since the novel coronavirus emerged in its central city of Wuhan in late 2019. The number of reported deaths remained at 4,636.