Covid-19 outbreak in China unfolds too fast, health officials warn

SHANGHAI – The latest Covid-19 outbreak in China is developing rapidly, a health official said, as authorities demand heightened vigilance at ports of entry amid a surge in infections in a northeastern border city caused due to the arrival of the virus from abroad.

Some 377 cases of national transmission with confirmed symptoms were reported from October 17 to 29, according to data from the National Health Commission (CNS). China has addressed a number of outbreaks this year, since largely containing a nationwide contagion in early 2020.

The numbers remain low compared to outbreaks outside the country.

Yet as the rest of the world works to try to coexist with Covid, China has maintained its zero tolerance, urging surveillance in border areas and ports to prevent infected inbound travelers from spreading the virus to locals.

“In the last 14 days, 14 provincial areas have reported new cases of local transmission or asymptomatic carriers,” CNS spokesman Mi Feng said on Saturday. “The outbreak is still developing rapidly and the virus control situation is serious and complicated.”

Heihe, a northeastern town of 1.3 million people on the Chinese side of the Amur River, on the border with Russia, reported 26 local cases as of October 29, a sharp increase from nine a day earlier and just one on October 27.

“The outbreak has exposed the mental laxity of some local authorities,” said Wu Liangyou, another CNS official.

China, especially its ports of entry, should strengthen screening for people at high risk of infection and improve monitoring of possible outbreaks, as the virus is still spreading in neighboring countries, Wu told a news conference. .

Surveys and virus sequencing results showed that the group in Heihe is not related to an ongoing outbreak that mainly affects northwest China, indicating that there was a new outbreak brought in from abroad, Wu said.

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